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Re-view: The life-affirming Constellations at the Duke of York's


I confess, I had my reservations about seeing Constellations in a big West End theatre. There is something special about watching a performance, a really good, nuanced performance, in a tiny theatre where the set decoration is something you have to walk through to get to your seat. (And you have the writer and director sat behind you scribbling notes as it's preview.)

But Nick Payne's play about pre-destination and choice stands up to the test of it's transfer from the Royal Court Upstairs - even if you have to peer around the head of the chap sat directly in front.

And it's because it is a cracking good play performed with perfection by Sally Hawkins and Rafe Spall. It is at once wide-ranging and intimate in its scope playing out the threads and possible threads of two peoples lives that interweave.  Scenes are repeated, maybe just a few lines, changing the destination of the plot sometimes with a different tone of voice, sometimes by saying 'yes' rather than 'no'.

It's life-affirming. In what is an almost breathless 70 minutes, the range of emotions covered is quite staggering it is funny and sad and lots in between. And yet its cleverness is that intimacy, the minutae of everyday relationships, the very ordinaryness of the responses and reactions.

Constellations may imply that it is written in the stars, the transfer was a risk - a short play, a two-hander, in a big theatre - but it seems the stars were in the right configuration.

If you missed it at the Royal Court, now is your chance, go see, you won't regret it. Constellations runs at the Duke of York's Theatre until January 5.

Production photos by Johan Persson