by Shirley Lorraine
Santa Paula Stars Shine in Constellations
It is not often that a completely fresh viewpoint comes to the stage. Santa Paula Theater Center’s current offering of Nick Payne’s Constellations takes its audience into rarely explored territories mixing art and science. The excursion takes the audience on a fascinating ride into mental space to explore what could happen in a parallel universe or universes, where endless strings of slight variation on a singular incident are possible.
Constellations soars through the sky with lightning speed as the two actors, Jessi May Stevenson and Ron Feltner as Marianne and Roland, continually rewrite their relationship from many different angles. The age-old question of how an incident could have concluded with a different outcome is given a great deal of thought. The variations are achieved through the application of the principles of string theory, relativity and quantum mechanics. It sounds heavy, but the situations are so relatable it is easy to see oneself in at least one of them.
It took me a few moments in the beginning to understand why the scenes were being repeated. Once I understood that new characters were emerging with slight tweaks to the scenario, I enjoyed the play with a different level of understanding. It is a deep piece that shimmers on the surface and simmers at the core.
A simple, unadorned setting allows the actors to transform themselves in attitude, demeanor and presence via light pools highlighting the subtlety of how one minor change can alter the outcome of a given situation. I found myself pondering the efficacy of taking the time to “what if” threads to gain some insight as to possible resolutions before proceeding. Could happen.
Directed by the very talented David Ralphe, Stevenson and Feltner appear seamless as they transcend time and space, each becoming a slight variation of themselves on a dime. Both delve deeply into their souls to pull out myriad nuances of emotions. The action is enhanced by the projection of distant stars and nebulas with gentle underlying music.
Presented with no intermission, the audience is given an unbroken glimpse into the ever-changing nature of relationships which is as vast as any universe.
On another note: the night I attended was the inaugural evening utilizing SPTC’s new air conditioning! With the recent and continuing heatwaves in play and years of using the program as a fan, the AC is a very welcome addition.
Be sure to visit the theater’s website often for updated news on concerts, specialty performances and noteworthy happenings. www.santapaulatheatercenter.org. There is always something interesting going on. One-time concerts especially tend to sell out quickly.
Also take notice that Sunday performances for this production are at 4:00 p.m. You won’t want to be late.
Santa Paula Theatre Center, 125 W. S. Seventh St, Santa Paula
Friday & Saturday eves 8 PM, Sundays 4:00 PM through July 29
Adults $24, Seniors/Students $22. Not recommended for 17 and under. www.santapaulatheatercenter.org/805-525-4625