Review: Constellations at The Vaudeville Theatre, London

Constellations is not a new play as it premiered at The Donmar Warehouse in 2012 but it has been totally refocused to suit our present times.

By Angie Millard

It is a two-hander but this time four couples have been cast and as such if one couple have to isolate, another can take their place. It is a play with something for everyone as each couple brings different qualities to the piece. We have an older couple: Zoe Wanamaker and Peter Capaldi, a couple of colour: Sheila Atim and Ivanno Jeremiah, a gay, interracial couple: Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey and finally, a middle-aged couple: Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd. Audiences can obviously select which couple they want to see, Covid allowing.

The play written by Nick Payne is billed as being a play of infinite possibilities and is based on the many worlds interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. To put it simply, time is seen as an infinite series. In this we live in one of many universes and the play uses the idea ‘of could have beens and might have beens’ in which the characters explore other possibilities of outcome. The one definite factor is death.

In fact, as the play progresses the audience evaluates the different events presented in a love story. How did the couple meet? Who was unfaithful? Can they really reconnect and go forward? Michael Longhurst describes it as ‘a love story that transcends time and space’.

Forget the use of Quantum Theory, forget the different actors; the play you will see is complete and very moving. It confronts moving into the end of life and offers, even there, other possibilities which we are told two thirds of people don’t choose.

The set uses cleverly placed balloons, hanging from above and scattered around to produce an other-worldliness which references the planets and universe.

At the end, I immediately felt that I wanted to see all the interpretations of the same script by each couple who were all at a different stage of their life and in different circumstances.

What  a pity I don’t live closer to  London!

Constellations was performed at The Vaudeville Theatre, London on 14 July 2021 and runs until 12 September 2021. Its author is Nick Payne. The director is Michael Longhurst. The designer is Tom Scutt and the lighting designer is Lee Curran.