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Review Round-Ups

Did the stars align for the return of Nick Payne's Constellations?

Michael Longhurst's production has arrived in London following a UK tour

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Ben Hewis, WhatsOnStage

★★★★

"From first sight to first fight, proposals to brain tumours; if you've ever done/said/slept with something (/one) you've instantly regretted and pondered the consequences of an alternative decision, then this play is for you."

"Michael Longhurst's direction leaves no room for error as Brealey and Armstrong's verbal tennis match plays out the same game over and over, like an Isner–Mahut tie-break. The pair's familiarity with Payne's text allows them to focus on the minutiae of their infinite parallel characters and results in emotional, intelligent and very funny performances from both."

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard

★★★★

"There's a touch of Groundhog Day in Nick Payne's seductive play, which repeats and re-imagines key moments in the relationship between cosmologist Marianne (Louise Brealey) and beekeeper Roland (Joe Armstrong)."

"...this recast version... makes Payne's two-hander seem less about crippling self-consciousness than the awkward dynamics of affection. Brealey is not as expansive and motor-mouthed as her predecessor Sally Hawkins, yet manages to appear both brittle and soulful, while the reliable Armstrong is earthier and less effusive than Rafe Spall."

Andrzej Lukowski, Time Out

★★★★

"New leads Joe Armstrong and Louise Brealey are not the big stars that their predecessors were, and perhaps consequently offer earthier performances... the blokey, awkward Armstrong fills the Roland role more believably than Spall did... And the nerdy Brealey is a much more plausible scientist than the otherworldly Hawkins."

"...the play loses none of its power as the infinite possibilities start to converge upon one horribly inescapable outcome. If you're not crying by the end in this reality, you will be in most of the others."

Marianka Swain, Arts Desk

★★★★

"Brealey and Armstrong rise to the challenge of this quick-change act, providing a grounded centre for its intellectual maelstrom, though Armstrong could offer more variation on his amiable bloke."

"Michael Longhurst's pacy production effectively employs flashbulb pops to herald scene transitions, and Tom Scutt's set is a striking visual metaphor... An imperfect experiment, but moments of sheer wonder."

David Jays, Sunday Times

★★★★

"Louise Brealey seems all angle and elbow as the fidgety Marianne, a theoretical physicist investigating the concept of the 'multiverse'."

"Michael Longhurst's production holds all these possibilities under a ceiling of white balloons, designed by Tom Scutt, that suggests celebration, grief and bubbles of possibility, while Brealey and Armstrong play beautifully with the speedy micro-variations of the relationship."

(Behind paywall)

Constellations runs at the Trafalgar Studios until 1 August. Click here for more information and to book tickets.

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