I first saw Nick Payne‘s play Constellations at the Duke Of Yorks Theatre in 2012 when it transferred from the Royal Court starring Rafe Spall and Sally Hawkins. In 2015 I saw the Broadway production with Jake Gyllenhall and Ruth Wilson and now, back in London, I couldn’t turn down the chance to see Russell Tovey in a gay version of the play.
Beekeeper Roland (Russell Tovey) and earth scientist Emmanuel (Omari Douglas) meet at a BBQ and a relationship begins. The play is a collection of short scenes from throughout their life together, repeated and told in different ways, showing how minor changes to the things we say and do can change the outcome of moments in life. It’s a similar idea to Matt Haig’s book The Midnight Library, where a woman dies and is given the opportunity to go back to times in her life and see how things may have turned out had she acted differently.
When Emmanuel becomes terminally ill, a decision has to be made whether treatment to buy them a few more weeks together is worth prolonging the agony of dying for. But with our lives written in the stars and where parallel universes may exist, do we ever really die, and can we change the course of when that happens?
Both Russell Tovey and Omari Douglas are phenomenal. I saw the play more clearly than I ever have before and their storytelling and charisma were totally palpable.
The set design is beautifully simple with the actors standing underneath a multitude of white balloons which start to fall, one by one, and the story comes to an end, symbolising life and how precious it is.
This production, at the Vaudeville Theatre, features four casts, rotating performances in pairs. Sheila Atim/Ivanno Jeremiah and Peter Capaldi/Zoë Wanamaker (who have completed their runs) and Omari Douglas/Russell Tovey and Anna Maxwell Martin/Chris O’Dowd now playing until 12 September.
Constellations is one of my favourite plays and if you haven’t seen it before, I beg you to go and check it out!
Reviewed by West End Wilma
For tickets to Constellations click here