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Review: Constellations at Studio Theatre

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I’m really into Studio Theatre. I’ve been going for years—but this season has been filled with theatre that’s nothing short of exceptional. Chimerica was a provocative real look at the cultural divide between China and the United States. Bad Jews was hilarious look at dysfunctional modern families. Between Riverside & Crazy was a humorous and heart-breakingly real look at racism and gentrification in the United States, with incredible acting.

While I knew it would be impossible to top Between Riverside & Crazy, I returned to Studio earlier this week to see Constellations.  (Luckily, there are many great restaurants for a pre-theatre dinner in the blocks between my house and the theatre. I recommend BToo, The Pig, and Estadio.)

Tom Patterson and Lily Balatincz in Constellations at Studio Theatre. Photo by Igor Dmitry.
Tom Patterson and Lily Balatincz in Constellations at Studio Theatre. Photo by Igor Dmitry.

Constellations is showing as part of StudioX, the avant garde piece of Studio Theatre. The shows typically take place on the fourth floor of the large, historical theatre. The staging alone often makes a visit worthwhile—I’ve seen several uniquely staged plays at StudioX, including one that appeared as if it took place in a swimming pool.

For Constellations, you pass through the stairs of the industrial theatre around a circular object with neon lights shining through. It kind of reminded me of the X-files. Then you grab a pillow (there are instructions) and enter a round wooden structure that’s best described as miniature wooden coliseum.

Theatre-goers climb up to take their seats upon the pillows and look down upon the stage in the center, which is lit by a modern, neon-lit work of art in the center.

Tom Patterson and Lily Balatincz in Constellations at Studio Theatre. Photo by Igor Dmitry.
Tom Patterson and Lily Balatincz in Constellations at Studio Theatre. Photo by Igor Dmitry.

The two characters, Marianne and Roland, a young British couple, take the stage. The next 70 minutes of dialogue between them is the show. Roland, a shaggy-haired bee keeper with a sweet demeanor was quite endearing. Marianne is a strong-willed, slightly awkward, and rather intelligent physicist. Both roles were incredibly well delivered.

Constellations follows the pair through a series of key moments in their relationship—meeting, fights, illness—but uses a metaphor of scientific theory for a spin.

There is a theory in quantum mechanics that describes the interactions between things: molecules, particles, and the forces between them. While general relativity holds that the interaction of large things (i.e. universes and galaxies) holds consistent through time and space—but the math does not hold up for small things (i.e. humans and our lives as we know ’em.)

Certain models of astrophysics hold that it is possible that there are parallel universes, dimensions, or iterations of our observed reality—i.e. everything we have done or will do could have occurred slightly differently elsewhere.

Constellations follows Marianne and Roland through pivotal moments in their human experience, with different crossroads that lead to different futures—making the audience think hard about the fleeting nature of time and, for me, how powerless we can feel in a world of endless possibilities and outcomes.

Constellations is playing through March 6. Tickets begin at $25 for those under 30 years of age.

Studio Theatre
1501 14th St. N.W.
Washington. D.C.

Studio Theatre partners with Bitches Who Brunch. While this article was written independently by us, we do receive compensation from the organization. 

 

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