Monday, August 28, 2017

'Constellations' shows many possibilities in a relationship

Marianne (Carie Kawa) and Roland (Robert Gilbert) flirt in "Constellations" (Photo by Kevin Berne)
It’s boy meets girl with many twists and possibilities in Nick Payne’s “Constellations,” presented by TheatreWorks Silicon Valley.

With its focus on theoretical physics, this 2012 drama seems well suited to TheatreWorks audiences.

The term “theoretical physics” might intimidate some people, but be assured that at its heart “Constellations” is a captivating romance between a beekeeper, Roland (Robert Gilbert), and a university professor, Marianne (Carie Kawa), in England.

Their initial meeting at a barbecue repeats several times, each with a different twist.  

From there it progresses to other meetings, each with more twists. Scenes don’t necessarily follow chronological order, but they’re easy to follow.

Director Robert Kelley says in his program notes, “I found myself seduced by Payne’s vision of many possible lives, by his idea that any interaction between two people can connect or disconnect with the slightest variance in tone, timing, a single word, even the brightness of a smile.”

The play also posits different outcomes. For example, Marianne begins to experience physical problems that could be relatively harmless or fatal.

Under Kelley’s skillful direction, Gilbert as Roland and Kawa as Marianne both navigate the changes easily, allowing the audience to hope for a positive outcome for both characters.

Production values are high with an intriguing set by Andrea Bechert with subtle lighting changes by Steven B. Mannshardt, complementary sound by composer Cliff Caruthers and costumes by Jill Bowers.

“Constellations” runs about 70 minutes without intermission. It will continue through Sept. 17 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, Castro and Mercy streets, Mountain View. For tickets and information, call (650) 463-1960 or visit