Time flies. Time stands still. There isn’t enough time. There is too much time. Time is one of those living staples that is at once relative and yet inflexibly rigid. An hour can feel like ten minutes and visa versa.
Nick Payne’s Constellations explores the notion of time and how it bodes on a relationship. At its most heartfelt, we’re confronted with a dying Marianne (Emma Palmer) who thinks it’s best to make do with memories of time best spent and her partner Roland (Sam O’Sullivan) who wants as much time with his sick lover as time will give.
In this obsession with time we see a cleverly irreverent treatment of it via Payne’s non-linear structure. Constellations consists of snippets of Marianne and Roland’s life – from their first meeting at a barbeque to their courtship and their last few months together.
Yet in a final twist, not only are these events played out in an un-patterned and non-chronological fashion, but they are played out with three or four ‘alternative repeats’. That is, a scene takes place (for example, Marianne tells Roland of her affair) and then repeated with a slight variable in language or circumstance, each time changing the outcome in a large or small way. Emphasis falls on the use of time and how the different ways we ‘play out our lives’ can drastically affect our future.
With a clever but complex play comes the need for a director who can order the disorder and actors who can make clean and clear choices. Darlinghurst Theatre Company delivers on both accounts. Anthony Skuse proves once again why he is one of Australia’s great theatre directors. His nuance and subtlety is voluminous, his simplicity is variegated.
Emma Palmer and Sam O’Sullivan give lively and detailed performances. We grow to care about these characters as a result of their fine storytelling. Gez Xavier Mansfield’s set design completes the picture – abundance amidst minimalism. This play is about big ideas and Mansfield gives the actors space to fill the stage with Payne’s ideas.
A gem of a play made to shine by a craftily cut production. Bravo.
Director: Anthony Skuse Featuring: Sam O’Sullivan, Emma Palmer Production Designer: Gerald Xavier Mansfield Lighting Designer: Sara Swersky Sound Designer: Marty Jamieson
Eternity Playhouse, 39 Burton Street, Darlinghurst
Performance: Tuesday 12 August 2014 – 8.00pm
Season continues to 7 September 2014
Bookings: (02) 8356 9987 or online at: www.darlinghursttheatre.com
For more information, visit: www.darlinghursttheatre.com for details.
Image: Sam O’Sullivan and Emma Palmer in Constellations – photo by Gez Xavier Mansfield
Review: Maryann Wright
Maryann Wright is a performer and writer. She has a Diploma of Musical Theatre from Brent Street and a Bachelor of Arts (Media and Communications) from The University of Sydney. Recent performance credits include Heart of a Dog (Australian premiere), Carrie (Squabbalogic) and Urinetown (Brent Street). Journalism credits include The Guardian, news.com.au and Girlfriend Magazine. www.maryannwright.com.au