Monday, April 23, 2018

There is No Linear Answer

"Every decision you've ever and never made exists in an unimaginably vast ensemble of parallel universes."

It was a last minute decision that landed me at a play about how each decision we choose produces a new outcome.

No telling what might have happened if I'd made a different decision, but it couldn't possibly have been as rewarding or entertaining as seeing a play that begins with a repeated discussion of licking your elbow.

TheatreLAB's Cellar series was previewing "Constellations," an award-winning two-person play about not just meeting someone and falling in love, but all the variations in how that could play out. The beauty of the story was that with each scene in the relationship of a beekeeper and a quantum physicist, we got to see a host of outcomes based on word choice, inflection or attitude.

You better believe I saw the correlation to real life.

Besides it being the fastest hour of science and romance I've ever spent in a theater, I apparently needed to be there to up my science smarts learning about multiverses as opposed to universes. But where it really got under my skin was in thinking how we choose to respond to every single conversation can result in wholly different endings. It's all about choice.

When every scene (meeting at a barbecue, making love the first time, proposing) backs up for a replay, the characters move to an alternate universe where they have another chance to have that conversation again with different results. Tedious as that could sound, it's actually wildly compelling, all the more so for how the two seem to grow closer experiencing each possibility.

Audra Honaker played the physicist with all the nervy, repressed energy of a woman with more to offer than she'd had the opportunity to share, with beekeeper Trevor Craft's easygoing vulnerability providing the ideal complement. And I have to say, in a play where lines are repeated over and over, having two strong actors who can create entire new scenarios from the same words is nothing short of riveting.

At times I felt like I was at a tennis match, my head turning side to side to fully absorb whichever actor was speaking, though the best scenes were those where I could watch the one react to the other's lines because the interplay between them was completely engaging.

Walking out, the woman behind me said to no one in particular, "I love that play!" and I couldn't resist seconding that opinion, even though it was my first time seeing it.

Truth is, I'm sorely tempted to go back again just to watch these two flex their well-toned acting muscles creating serious onstage chemistry. Oh, sure, and to further my understanding of multiverses.

But let's be real, these days I'm also inordinately fond of being reminded of life's infinite possibilities. It is all about choice.

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