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Constellations: Lost in the stars and beyond

Lean Ensemble Theater ventures into new territory in “Constellations,” its 2017-18 season opener. 

Story by Carolyn Males

It’s a love story. Boy meets girl at a barbecue. She flirts, suggesting that it’s impossible to lick one’s elbows. “I’m in a relationship,” he tells her. Then. . . well. . . hmmm…

[Jump cut]

It’s a love story. Boy meets girl. They start on that elbow thing again. This time he mentions that he’s just broken up with someone. The conversation grows awkward. And oh, well. . . .

[Jump cut]

It’s a love story. Boy beekeeper meets girl theoretical physicist. More elbows. More twists. More missed connections. More jump cuts until the two potential lovers find the opening that leads to delicious opportunities…

[Scene change]

Lean Ensemble Theater, ventures into new territory in “Constellations,” its 2017-18 season opener.

Wait. Change that. Lean Ensemble Theater ventures into parallel universes in “Constellations,” its season opener. In a series of snapshot scenes, Lean’s production of this recent romantic Broadway play explores the infinite ways a relationship can unfold. “Like a game of ‘what if,’ ” says director Peggy Trecker White.

What if. . . let’s pause for a moment and consider this. Ever wished you could edit your life? What if you could do over certain experiences? Change what you said? Use a different tone of voice? Make a different decision? What if you’d turned right instead of left? Or headed north instead of south?

Who would you have met? Who would you have married? Or would you have married? How would the course of your life change?

In this humorous, engaging comedy, playwright Nick Payne plays with this idea, mashing Einstein’s theory of relativity with Quantum mechanics, shattering our ideas about time and life into alternative realities. With each of these short scenes, we watch this intimate relationship enter a veritable rabbit hole of possibilities for the way things could happen. Or not. The male character, Roland, is a beekeeper with his feet on the ground. His co-star, Marianne, is a theoretical physicist who lives in the world of the mind. And the two make for a pairing of intrigue.

For it’s Marianne’s ideas that send Roland’s thoughts whirling off into uncharted skies. “Let’s say that ours is the only universe that exists,” she proposes. “If that were true, then there could only ever really be one choice. But if every possible future exists, then the decisions we do and don’t make will determine which of these futures we actually end up experiencing. Imagine rolling a dice six thousand times.”

“Constellations is about what if and what is,” says Trecker White, who has taken on the challenge, along with actors Ian McCabe and Prentiss Standridge, of spinning out these alternate realities in imaginative ways. “We’re watching these lovely, funny, complicated people go through several drafts of their relationship. Like all of us,” she continues, “they have insecurities, hopes and dreams. And we see how when they butt up against things, they fight to get things right.”

“Constellations” packs a lot of punch in a 70 minute-performance that is sure to leave the audience rethinking choices and decisions, past and future. A conversation with the cast and crew follows the performance.