Arts & Theater

Moving, bittersweet ‘Constellations’ at B Street

Dana Brooke and Tom Patterson in “Constellations” by Nick Payne at B Street Theatre
Dana Brooke and Tom Patterson in “Constellations” by Nick Payne at B Street Theatre Photo by B Street Theatre

Nick Payne’s beautiful bittersweet ballad of a play, “Constellations,” shape-shifts through time in what the author calls “parallel universes.”

The two-person, one-act play opens with several quick versions of a couple (Roland and Marianne) meeting for the first time at a barbecue somewhere in modern Great Britain.

In seamless transitions punctuated by subtle sound and light cues, the meetings range from cool brush-offs to awkward, halting conversations. After a jump into the future for a scene where the two are very much together, scenes show several iterations of their first date. Their relationship progresses in sometimes funny and often melancholy slices of domestic life with variations and complications.

Marianne, who happens to be a theoretical physicist, tells Roland, “In the quantum multiverse, every choice, every decision you’ve ever made and never made exists in an unimaginably vast ensemble of parallel universes.” It sounds heady and nihilistic, but the play is actually quite tender. Despite constant sidetracks, a moving, definitive love story emerges.

Newcomer Tom Patterson and B Street veteran Dana Brooke are the easy-to-like couple, and their graceful gliding performances as Roland and Marianne give the production its necessary intimacy. Lyndsay Burch has directed with a wonderfully gentle touch, and Samantha Reno and Steven Schmidt’s elegant set design feels like a sensual exploratorium not entirely of this world.

Marcus Crowder: 916-321-1120, @marcuscrowder

Constellations

What: Nick Payne’s bittersweet, two-person drama deals with the many directions our lives can take. With Tom Patterson and Dana Brooke. Lyndsay Burch directs.

When: 7 p.m. Tuesdays - Fridays; 8 p.m. Saturdays through July 30.

Where: B Street Theatre B3 Space, 2727 B St., Sacramento

Tickets: $26-$38, $8 Student rush, $18

Information: 916-443-5300, www.bstreettheatre.org

Time: 70 minutes with no intermission.

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