By James Foritano
CAMBRIDGE, MA — The current play produced by the Underground Railway Theater at The Central Square Theater is a serious and not-so-serious remake of romantic love, dating and destiny in the light of the latest cosmic discoveries.
Award-winning English playwright Nick Payne was inspired to write “Constellations” after watching a NOVA program about the startling idea being seriously considered by quantum physics that our “universe” may actually be a “multiverse” of parallel universes in which everything and everyone are constantly being duplicated as we speak — and act, live — and die.
Taking this revolutionary idea out of the test tube and applying it to a present-day artisan bee-keeper, Roland, played by Nael Nacer, and quantum physicist, Marianne, played by Marianna Bassham, speeds up and splits up the eternal present of “hooking up”/“settling down” into a much richer paradigm than one would think a single stage and a single audience could handle in a single sitting.
Wisely, playwright Payne props up our sometimes-sagging suspension of disbelief with a vigorous reliance on so much more than abstruse theory.
Take love’s multiple worlds, attraction’s multiple stops and starts then forefront them with two actors who play to each other as well as to us and richly re-enacted scripts of our own start to roll.
No one doubts Shakespeare’s pithy adage: “The course of true love never did run smooth.” But we all hope and feel that for us — Please, just this once! — we can smooth out the foot-high wrinkles as easily, as dutifully, as we straighten our morning beds and sail home on calm seas in blessed tandem.
Never happens! Not to us, not to Marianne and Roland, either. And they are such smart, caring people too!
But, like us, they both have a multitude of “left feet” which they keep starting with — just after each pratfall! “No!” we shout — even us lefties — start with your right — your right!
Wishing we could pull these two maladroits out of the dating game before life starts to throw them some real curves, we shout ourselves hoarse.
Then the “curves” start. And these two “smart” people, now supposedly united in comic/cosmic matrimony, each run in such different ways. They don’t seem to be teaming up with each other, let alone their best selves!
Now, as dating and matrimonial coaches, as we are about to “throw in the towel” — in frustration, in despair – the theory of “multiple universes” saves us.
Of course, it’s so obvious! This antic pair, on stage, keeping bees, grooming theorems, are each in their own universe, as are we ourselves: global citizens of Cambridge, U.S.A.; provincials in a cosmos mirroring new beginnings ad infinitum.
Touching and terrible, comforting and confounding, beautifully staged and acted, “Constellations” succeeds in making the implausible seem possible, even inevitable.
You might decide, as his reviewer did, to help along the revolution by sharing, with like-minded multiple selves, an ice cream sundae — just across Mass. Ave. at Toscanini’s.
Physics never tasted to good!
(“Constellations” continues through October 8 at Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, Mass. For more information, call (617) 576-9278.)