DramaFeaturedNorth WestReview

Constellations – Theatr Clwyd, Mold

Reviewer: Clare Boswell

Writer: Nick Payne

Director: Daniel Lloyd

Theatr Clwyd’s production of Nick Payne’s Constellations, directed by Daniel Lloyd, is a mesmerising exploration of love, choice, and the infinite possibilities within the multiverse. The production delves into the relationship between Marianne (Gwenllian Higginson), a physicist, and Roland (Aled Pugh), a beekeeper, using the theoretical framework of quantum physics and string theory to explore how their relationship might unfold across multiple parallel universes. This non-linear approach, while initially disorienting, ultimately provides a profoundly satisfying and thought-provoking experience as the audience pieces together the various narrative threads.

From the moment Higginson and Pugh step onto the stage, their chemistry is electric. They bring a resonant, relatable, and compelling sense of vulnerability to their characters, immediately drawing the audience into their story. We consistently root for them as they navigate the complexities of their relationship across different realities. Higginson’s portrayal of Marianne, particularly as she faces the heart-wrenching decline of her cognitive functions, is deeply moving and captures the fragility and strength of a young woman grappling with a devastating illness. Pugh complements Higginson with a warmth and sincerity in his portrayal of Roland, capturing his steadfast nature and deep affection for Marianne, making their connection feel authentic and profound. Together, they deliver a slick and well-paced exchange that keeps the audience engaged throughout the play’s shifting timelines. Their intuitive performances are enhanced by Francesca Jaynes’ subtle yet effective movement direction, which adds a graceful physicality to their interactions and underscores the emotional beats of the story.

The set designed by Hayley Grindle captures the essence of the multiverse. The myriad of lightbulbs of varying heights and colours, suspended above the stage, creates a collision of energy that is both chaotic and beautiful, mirroring the play’s exploration of the characters’ various existences. Jonathan Chan’s lighting design further enhances this with subtle shifts that guide the audience through the parallel worlds, while Dyfan Jones’ ominous musical underscore heightens the tension during pivotal moments, adding layers of emotion to the narrative.

The production also features moments of levity, with great comedic timing that provides a welcome balance to the more intense scenes. Theatr Clwyd’s Constellations is a beautifully performed piece that not only entertains but also provokes deep reflection on the nature of existence and human connection. The dual-language execution of the play in both English and Welsh is particularly impressive, showcasing the actors’ talent and adding an additional layer of depth to this already remarkable production. While the lack of a singular narrative may take some time to adjust to, the effort is well worth it. As the pieces of the story fall into place, the audience is rewarded with a richly layered and intellectually stimulating love story. The production’s exploration of quantum physics and the nature of choice is handled with both complexity and clarity, making it accessible and intriguing.

Runs until 25 May 2024

The Reviews Hub Score

intellectually stimulating

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The Reviews Hub - North West

The North West team is under the editorship of John McRoberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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