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Review: Constellations at theSpace on the Mile - Ed Fringe

Review by Lucy Holz

Having already seen this play once before, when I noticed Constellations was being done at Edinburgh Fringe this year, I raced to get a ticket. A classic two hander by Nick Payne, this masterpiece of dialogue and repetition is any actors dream.

Constellations follows the journey of two regular people, Marianne and Roland. A beekeeper and a physicist, this unlikely couple meet, breakup, makeup, cheat on each other, meet again and again and again. Payne’s dynamic script explores the possibilities of infinite alternative universes through the lives of a regular couple living in the here and now.

As the play progresses, this text forces the audience to question their own relationships, what might be inevitable and what might they be able to change. With the sombre theme of cancer diagnosis running beneath the dialogue, this script gives many chances for comedy and laughter to add some much needed lightness to an otherwise solemn story.

These playful moments are often captured by Zak Cartney in his portrayal of a likeable and bumbling Roland. Even in alternate universes where Roland is unfaithful, abusive or just married, Cartney builds a strong rapport with the audience, making us believe it will all be ok in the end.

Chloe Garling is a stern and exasperated Marianne, leaning away from opportunities for levity and into the seriousness of the script. Rather like a clown and straight man comedy duo, these opposing takes create a balanced performance.

The repetitive nature of the script can make this a challenging piece to take on, as when lines and scenes are being repeated again and again, it’s easy to lose an audience. Directors Michael Anderton and Iain Davie have not quite mastered the need for dynamism in this text, with actor delivery mimicking exact intonation in these repeat scenes.

Despite this tendency to fall back on familiar performance habits, Anderton and Davie have blocked the show well. A small space without raked seating, the directors have ensured no corner of the stage is ignored and there are no bad seats in the house.

Focusing around a central makeshift couch, the performers rely almost solely on each other and some minimal props for assistance in their storytelling. The script is strong enough that they don’t need much more and the show doesn’t feel lacking despite its spartan stagecraft.

Lighting and sound are designed by the directors and are effective in clarifying time and space. In a play that darts backwards and forwards in time from a ballroom class to a barbecue and back again, clear and consistent lights and sound are vital.

A classic script with infinite room for interpretation and performance, Constellations is a must see play for any theatre fan. This is an admirable production with many strong elements and definitely one to add to your list.

Image Supplied


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