Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Studio Theatre
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's reviews of Carmen: An Afro-Cuban Jazz Musical, Guards at the Taj and Shake Loose

Tom Patterson and Lily Balatincz
Photo by Igor Dmitry
Constellations, Nick Payne's charming consideration of romance and physics, is a perfect Valentine's Day choice for the Studio Theatre in Washington. The production, part of the theater's Studio X series in its Stage 4 black box space, follows Marianne (Lily Balatincz) and Roland (Tom Patterson) from their first meeting through many permutations of what follows.

Audience members select a seat cushion (choosing among several colors) before they enter Debra Booth's set, a round wooden structure with several rows of bleachers that provide seating space for 110. The visual focus is a striking sculpture hanging from the ceiling made of numerous tubes containing individual fluorescent light bulbs, bound together by wires in a random arrangement. As Marianne and Roland negotiate their relationship, lighting designer Michael Lincoln has manipulated the bulbs to cause changes in color for part or all of the sculpture.

The play, which runs less than 90 minutes, turns on the idea of the quantum multi-verse: that any action may lead to numerous outcomes, which all occur simultaneously in separate universes. Marianne is a physicist who explains the concept to Roland, an urban beekeeper.

The interactions portrayed in Payne's script range from playful (Marianne has a theory about why people can't lick the tips of their elbows) through regretful, serious and intense, as certain out-of-context scenes start popping in between the others.

As guided subtly by Muse, Balatincz and Patterson never seem less than totally committed to their roles and the ways they communicate—physical as well as verbal. Their connection is palpable and their comfort with the material obvious (including an interlude in sign language). It's worth the effort to see and experience.

Studio Theatre
A Studio X production
February 10th - March 6th
By Nick Payne
Marianne: Lily Balatincz
Roland: Tom Patterson
Directed by David Muse
Stage 4 at The Studio Theatre, 1501 14th St. NW
Washington, DC
Ticket Information: 202-332-3300 or

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