“Constellations” at Seattle Rep

If anyone ever told me that I’d swoon over a play that was built around string theory, relativity, and quantum mechanics, I’d have laughed. “Ugh,” I’d say, “I’m a total dolt when it comes to physics and don’t need a play about stuff I don’t understand.” Well I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This award-winning gem by young playwright Nick Payne is a total joy. It’s both heartwarming and heartbreaking. It plays with the brain and warms the soul as we follow Roland the beekeeper and Marianne the theoretical physicist as they meet, fall in love or fall out of love, and face the vicissitudes of life.


(L-R) Alexandra Tavares and Max Gordon Moorein Constellations at Seattle Repertory Theatre. Photo by Alan Alabastro

Everything’s right about this production. Directed with a fine hand by Desdemona Chiang, acted with grace and exquisitely delivered emotion by Max Gordon Moore and Alexandra Tavares, it plays on L. B. Morse’s stark but beautiful stage. A large yellow wood square serves as floor. A deep blue backdrop surrounds it. No stage props are needed. Our two characters live in a small corner of an infinite universe as they explore and experience their love, and all we need to see is them.

In real life, our relationships do offer many possibilities, but we are stuck with the choices we make. The relationship between these two characters has many permutations, think of them taking place in co-existing universes. Marianne and Roland have an opportunity to do everything again, differently, just as if the first situation never existed at all. He’s in love with her. He’s not. He’s married. He’s not. They become a couple. They don’t. She makes dumb moves. Oh no she doesn’t! As these two quirky people experience all the different possibilities of their relationship, we see it through the prism of quantum multiverse theory.

Their love story is tender. It’s intense. Moore and Tavares move easily back and forth through the different realities. They are captivating. You want their love to prevail. But plays must end, and playwright Nick Payne has left you with a quantum reality of many of the things that might happen. The universe is multiverse for Roland and Marianne.

Through Feb. 27 at Seattle Rep, 155 Mercer St., Seattle, (206 443-2222 or www.seattlerep.org).

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