‘Constellations’: Who decides our destiny?


Cole Johnson

Real-life couple. Keelie Sheridan and Jorge Luna, take on two-hander play, “Constellations” by Nick Payne, at the George S. Lindsey Theatre.

Laura Leigh Vought, Arts & Entertainment Editor

I found myself shuffling around a dark and damp North Alabama campus one Friday night. My plan was to check out the first installment to the book of plays that the University of North Alabama’s Cinematic Arts & Theatre, School of the Arts and College of Arts, Sciences and Engineering would come to present during the Fall 2021 semester.

The university presented Nick Payne’s 2012 global hit “Constellations,” on Aug. 20-22 and 27-29 at 7 p.m. at the George S. Lindsey Theatre, otherwise known as the “Black Box Theatre.”

Storm clouds percolated overhead as unfamiliar faces welcomed me into the Black Box Theatre. Instantly, after passing the threshold into the dark and secluded room, I felt transported into the mystical realm that is “Constellations.”

A singular couch commanded the stage with a humble ribbon of light overhead. A modest lamp stood proudly beside, as if its owner had just finished a restful sitting moments before.

As if copied directly from the stage, identical couches waited, scattered overhead with their subsequent lamps trading light pulses to the pumping of a beating buzz that crawled through the theatre.

I found my seat to be most comfortable in the back corner of the room, my typical choice due to its natural ability to hide myself in plain sight. Looking back, I see that my efforts were swindled and I would not be able to escape the thought-provoking performance that awaited me.

Unable to keep my eyes off of my surroundings, the cosmic sensation swallowed my reality as the scattered lampshades pulsated to the deep space- like humming that played over speakers surrounding the room.

Just as the heavenly atmosphere rocked my unsuspecting heart into a state of calmness, the lights faded out and the room echoed with the unfiltered pitter-patter ofapproaching footsteps.Finally, the show was about to begin.

An enchanting Keelie Sheridan demanded my attention from the moment she stepped into the stage light. Her entrancing red hair and matching personality gave unique life to a character that would quickly become my new role model. Accompanied by real-life husband, Jorge Luna, the two artists expertly brought the performance to life with a perfection only achievable by destiny itself.

Cole Johnson

The play begins with the chance meeting of two lost souls, Marianne the brilliant physicist, and Roland, the charming beekeeper. Thus sparking the epic romance between two soulmates predetermined for happiness begins… or perhaps they never had the chance?

Throughout the play, audience members are taken on a journey through time and inter-dimensional travel as they watch every possibility of a modern day romance play out before their eyes. No easy feat, if not for the exceptional lighting, sound, acting and overall execution of the unique play.

The play can credit collective efforts to Director Anderson Carr, Designer Vince Salpietro, Sound & Lighting Designer Chip Bailey, Technical Director Jacob Brown, Technical Assistant Haley French, Assistant Director & Stage Manager Alexandra Perez, Run Crew members Andrew Jordan and Samantha Davis and Light Operator Mason Nelms.

A seamless transition between alternating dimensions can be credited to the subtle, yet intentional sound and lighting cues that clearly denote a new fork in the play’s timeline.

Audience member’s attention remained fully grasped by the play’s rapid personality shifts as each timeline and dimensional layer were added to the incredibly intricate love story. My heart yearned for a happy ending for the modern couple as each scene seemed to dangle those dreams just outside of reach.

Only after addressing hot topics from terminal illness, language barriers and physical violence did the play begin the task of wrapping up the neatly-packaged love story that audience members desperately thirsted for.

Just as the play had taunted me with the sweet taste of a happy ending, the stage lights grew brighter and the iconic duo took their final bows before exiting the theatre. I felt an uneasy feeling of hope and confusion as I battled with the play’s message that other versions of myself existed outside of my current realm of decisions and consequences.

After I shuffled back to my lonely car, I sat in silence as I tried to organize the plethora of thoughts that were stirred by the play’s message. Never before did I think that I would be so affected by a 90 minute performance with only two actors and a stagnant background.

Luckily for me, I have been proven wrong and would happily make the same decision if given a second chance. Although in the spirit of “Constellations,” I suppose I can never know for sure.