Total Rating: 
***
Previews: 
June 12, 2017
Images: 
Opened: 
June 14, 2017
Ended: 
July 18, 2017
Country: 
USA
State: 
California
City: 
Los Angeles
Company/Producers: 
Geffen Playhouse
Theater Type: 
Regional
Theater: 
Geffen Playhouse
Theater Address: 
10886 Le Conte Avenue
Phone: 
310-208-5454
Website: 
geffenplayhouse.org
Running Time: 
90 min
Genre: 
Drama
Author: 
Nick Payne
Director: 
Giovanna Sardelli
Review: 

Fiendishly clever are the first words that came to mind after the conclusion of Constellations, the play by British playwright Nick Payne which is now having its West Coast premiere at the Geffen, directed by Giovanna Sardelli. The much-sought-after play (which has been a hit in London and New York) is a star vehicle for its two actors, in this case Ginnifer Goodwin and Allen Leech. Both are much-acclaimed TV actors: Goodwin starred on “Once Upon a Time,” Leech in “Downtown Abbey.” Although they have never worked together before, they work miracles as a team, combining to bring Constellations to life in harmonious, dazzling fashion.

Goodwin plays Marianne, a quantum physicist; Leech a beekeeper named Roland. An unlikely couple, to be sure: nerd meets man of the earth, but there is a physical attraction. Mind and body connect, begin to fall in love, only to pull apart when something one of them says makes the other recoil, flare up in anger. Just as suddenly, though, the scene is repeated; similar dialogue, only spoken with a different intonation or intention, leading to a contradictory resolution. It goes on like that, with Marianne and Roland showing, in scene after scene, just how easy it is for love to go wrong; all it takes is a single careless word, a wrong bit of body language.

This has something to do with quantum physics, the playwright would have us believe—the randomness at the heart of existence, the universe itself (or is that simply Marianne sounding off?)

Existential questions aside, Constellation is a love story, one which follows the inevitable convention of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl–except that it all happens on a high intellectual plane, in a fresh and, as I said above, a fiendishly clever way.

Goodwin and Leech work their magic on a near-bare stage whose atmosphere is provided by an over-arching sky filled with stars that change colors each time the actors go through a mood-change. In a twinkling, too.

Cast: 
Ginnifer Goodwin, Allen Leech
Technical: 
Set: Takeshi Kata; Costumes: Denitsa Bliznakova; Lighting: Lap Chi Chu; Original Music/Sound: Lindsay Jones; Dramaturg: Rachel Wiegardt-Egel
Critic: 
Willard Manus
Date Reviewed: 
June 2017