Constellations: Play that explores the what-ifs of love

Saturday June 9 2018

Poster for the play

Poster for the play "Constellations". PHOTO | COURTESY 

By HILLARY KIMUYU
More by this Author

Silvia Cassini and Philip Coulson bring to life this gorgeous two-character drama, which, in John Sibi-Okumu's interpretation, may be the most sophisticated date-play in Nairobi he has seen.
“Constellations” is a Broadway production about how a single word or a decision can alter the cause of your life.

The play is about a relationship between Marianne (a university academic specialising in 'theoretical early universe cosmology, played by Cassini) and Roland (a beekeeper, played by Coulson).

It unfolds across time and space, an even a miniscule variation in intention, sends the characters spinning into entirely new universes.
With this odd ball show safe in the hands of these thespians, the two eventually connect and their affair finally gets off the ground, sort of.

Marianne invites Roland to her place after their first date. And then she doesn’t. Roland behaves like a jerk in one scenario and she throws him out, but he’s a sweetheart in another variation on the same scene, which draws them into a more intimate relationship.

The show, which debuted in London in 2012, then moved to Broadway in 2015 where it starred Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson, compresses a lifetime of joy, anguish and alternate paths into a fleet, satisfying 70-minute production.

PREMIERE

It premiered in Nairobi, at Braeburn Austin Theatre on Friday and was also staged on Saturday, June 8 and 9, respectively. It will play again this week later on Wednesday and Thursday, June 13 and 14, at 7.30pm.
In the production, that most elemental of dramatic setups - boy meets girl - is spun into a seeming infinitude of could-have-been alternatives, through the application of the principles of string theory, relativity and quantum mechanics.
Though the concept of parallel universes is undoubtedly at the cutting edge of current cosmological thinking, the chemistry between Roland and Marianne is a simple thing, if you’ve ever been in love.

Particularly if you have ever wondered why things happened as they did, and whether it couldn't have all been different.
And though “Constellations” is a supremely articulate play, it knows that words inevitably fail, that they are never enough to bind two people together forever. Time, it turns out, is a more effective breaker of hearts than human beings, with all their conflicted intentions, can ever be. This story of parallel universes is universal in every sense of the word.
Silvia is a playwright who was born in Kenya and educated at Oxford University. She is known for her famous play “A Man Like You”, which was inspired by the true events in Nairobi where Somali terrorists opened fire in Westgate shopping mall and killed at least 67 people.

Aside from being a writer, Silvia has been involved in creative fields, from film-making to Product Design, she is also an actress and director.