This two-actor play opens at a casual barbecue, with a standard boy-meets-girl introduction. Over grilled sausages and beer, the small talk turns to “what they do.” He tells her that he is a professional beekeeper, and he sheepishly adds that he makes a living at it, too. She identifies herself as a researcher at Sussex University -- a theoretical physicist. Her specialty is the quantum multiverse – a set of closely related parallel worlds in which any given situation will play out with slightly different results.
The young beekeeper is more than just impressed – as she explains that “at any given moment, several outcomes can coexist simultaneously in the quantum universe… every choice, every decision you’ve made and never made exists in an unimaginable vast ensemble of parallel universes,” the beekeeper responds “this is genuinely turning me on.”
And that is the premise of this play. The couple’s flirtation turns into romance, and we see different versions of their story unfold. Some universes are bright and hopeful, others not.
There’s one world in which a life-threatening illness casts a shadow, and the couple finds themselves discussing the nature of her ailment, which is making it difficult for her to speak, or write.
But in a different universe, the couple separate, then meet again much later at a dance studio… they are both taking waltz lessons in preparation for upcoming social events. And they’re actually rather glad to see eachother, even though they’ve broken up.
For the audience, observing this romance with alternate outcomes is like watching a prism diffract sunlight into the disparate colors of the rainbow. And isn’t newfound love a matter of recognizing the possibilities of what “could be”?
This play is also a fascinating opportunity for actors Dana Friedman and Tom Patterson to navigate their characters through the shifting circumstances.
“Constellations” is a well-told romance … but it’s also a mind-expanding meditation on the roads taken – and not taken – by these two appealing young people. And who knew quantum physics could turn out to be this subtle and sexy?