Review: A stunning production of ‘Constellations’ is on stage now at Peterborough Players

Angelica Potter

One of the most complex, yet well executed and entirely magnificent parts of Peterborough Players latest production is the combination of scenic, lighting and sound design. Director Gus Kaikkonen in working with lighting designer John Eckert came up with a distinctively beautiful set that incorporated dozens of light bulbs that hung at various heights above the stage and over the audience. Tying their use in with specific sound cues, designed by Kevin Frazier, brought the superior technical execution of this play to the next level of incredible. The combination of these three elements blended seamlessly and worked together perfectly.

One of the main messages in this play had to do with time and time itself was also an essential part of the technical aspects of this production. One wrong, late or early cue and the connection between the audience and the actors and their stories would have been disrupted. This trio certainly brought their A game when creating the set for this complex play to come to life in and it entirely paid off as its design and crisp execution was above and beyond one of the best I have seen so far this year.

Written by Nick Payne, this play premiered on Broadway in December of 2014 and ran through the early spring of 2015. This two-person drama shows us the journey and relationship of a beekeeper named Roland, and a theoretical physicist named Marianne. In this production, Roland is played by Sean Patrick Hopkins and Marianne is played by Bridget Beirne. The pair delivered strong performances and were clearly very comfortable with the material, their characters and their relationship to each other.

Considering the play is non-linear and jumps back and forth in time, the complexities of fully understanding and being able to portray these two people in a way that the audience can relate to, while also following the story, is no small feat. Their emotional rollercoaster was fast moving with a story that was constantly changing directions. As the play went on, the audience wasn’t merely laughing at the humorous moments, as they were at the start; rather they were becoming intrigued and invested in the lives and relationship of the two people being portrayed on stage. As scenes became heavier and the emotional stakes got higher, the audience was riveted, wondering how it was all going to turn out. One of the most moving scenes was when they communicated through sign language. It really made their situation and the struggles they were going through even more realistic and heart-wrenching. 

It is imperative to again emphasize that this is not a linear play! Therefore the audience cannot watch it like a regular play. It is not one where you can sit back, relax and be entertained. You have to take it in scene by scene and then piece the story together as you go along. It is very cerebral and unique. It is unlike anything I have seen on stage before, but it reminded me of the recent film ‘Arrival’ with Amy Adams. The theme of time and how it is not linear was prevalent in both pieces. If you were able to enjoy that film, I think you would also enjoy this play.

‘Constellations’ is a play without boundaries and in questioning what is choice vs. what is destiny, it sends the audiences’ heads spinning as we contemplate our own choices and how we have played a part in shaping our own destiny. This production was technically superb, wonderfully performed, and absolutely fascinating to watch! ©

‘Constellations’ runs about one hour and fifteen minutes without intermission and plays on the Peterborough Players stage, 55 Hadley Road, Peterborough, NH, through July 16th. For tickets call the box office at 603-924-7585 or check out Photo Credit: Sean Patrick Hopkins & Bridget Beirne in 'Constellations'. Photo courtesy Peterborough Players. 

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