REVIEW: “Constellations” at Horizon Theatre Company

Two captivating performances make “Constellations” at Atlanta’s Horizon Theatre one of the must-see plays of the season. Nick Payne’s play premiered in London before moving up to the West End and eventually a Broadway run with celebrity cast Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson, but the intimate nature of the work makes it well-suited to regional productions. Indeed, it seems as though celebrity actors could be distracting as the characters require a high level of mutability, and Horizon’s cast dissolves perfectly into the roles.
The story centers around a couple and how a myriad of left or right turns can change the course of a relationship. It’s something of a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style story, with some of the adventures ending in tragedy and some with a more upbeat, romantic turn. Given that the actors (Bethany Irby and Enoch King) repeat scenes over and over with slight variations, the 80-minute play can at times feel like an extended acting exercise, but that’s not to say that it isn’t fascinating and engrossing to watch.
Irby and King run the gamut in this production, and if their chemistry is off, the play would fall apart completely. The spare and sparkling set gives the actors nowhere to hide, and they both rise to the challenge of creating and re-creating these characters and their relationship. Some of the higher drama moments feel a little forced, but watching these actors navigate the twists and turns is highly satisfying.
The play runs through February 26, 2017, and tickets are available online. Not a bad option for an offbeat Valentine’s Day, especially given the restaurant options nearby in Little Five Points. The story serves as a reminder that we’re all a few steps away from an entirely different existence, for better or worse, and it can make you appreciate the path you’ve taken.