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Constellations

Regrets, I've had a few
But then again, too few to mention
--"My Way," Paul Anka, Claude Francois, Lucien Thibaut, Jacques Revaud

All of us have made choices we regret, but what if, in parallel universes, we could do it differently? Playwright Nick Payne shows us how such a scenario could play out in Curious Theatre Company's Denver premiere of Constellations.

Roland and Marianne meet in one of many multiverses
Roland and Marianne meet
in one of many multiverses
Photo: Michael Ensminger
In Payne's world, Roland (Brett Aune), a beekeeper, and Marianne (Kelsey Didion), a quantum physicist, meet at a barbeque. As their relationship evolves, we see three to five different scenarios at each decision point, much like a learning simulation, where each choice brings a new set of options that, with every new iteration, quickly branches out geometrically into infinite possibilities.

The work between these two fine actors and the nuanced choices that they make—given, we are sure, a thorough exploration of the possibilities, under the direction of Christy Montour-Larson—during each series of reiterations is fascinating, while we are tossed serially in disparate emotional directions.

Infatuation
Infatuation
Photo: Michael Ensminger
Aune's Roland is a straightforward guy, much like the bees he tends, with their intrinsic delineated and dependable roles; while Didion's Marianne is wholly unpredictable, just as contemporary theoretical physics would have it. On another level, isn't this a wonderful metaphor (and generality) for the distinctive worldviews (and hormonal imperatives) between men and women?

As the permutations and combinations progress, a throughline develops. Perhaps it is the one we were wishing for, just as Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle explains: "If you look for the particle, you see the particle; if you look for the wave, you see the wave." Most of us have experienced all the stages of Roland and Marianne's multifaceted relationships, and many of the milestones as well: attraction, flirting, alienation, rapproachement, dancing, engagement, etc. When a life-threatening challenge appears, both Aune and Didion double down as the stakes and the magnitude of the choices rise to an existential peak.

To be, or not to be
"To be, or not to be?"
Photo: Michael Ensminger
Finally, the couple faces the meaning of time itself, with Marianne reminding Roland that "we have all the time we've always had," as they commence to dance once more.

Whether or not Payne's interpretation of quantum theory and parallel worlds (or multiple universes) is accurate, he gifts us with images of how the repercussions of our choices resonate in the memories of all those we touch, and how they further reverberate as ripples in spacetime.

Curious Theatre Company's production of Constellations runs through April 15th. For tickets: curioustheatre.org.

Bob Bows



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