(Above: Playbill design by Dan Pegoda)

By Randi Bjornstad

If on the surface the plot of Constellations — the sixth production of The Very Little Theatre’s season —  seems a bit reminiscent of the 2022 blockbuster movie Everything Everywhere All at Once, there is (no pun intended) a parallel.

Both the play and the movie center around people who exist at once in multiple parallel universes, coming together in myriad ways to experience the challenges of all their possible worlds.

The plot of Constellations, however, is much gentler than that of Everything Everywhere, in which the protagonists travel here, there, and everywhere through time and place with the purpose of preventing a powerful, evil being from destroying the universe.

In Constellations, yes, two people also travel through time and place, but the play is much more a love story that is, as the VLT describes it, “a beautiful kaleidoscope of possible pasts, presents, and futures that orbit around them in a graceful and ornate waltz.”

The characters are a beekeeper named Roland and a scientist named Marianne, who meet at a barbecue and discover a connection that supercedes, well, everything.

As theoretical physicist Marianne explains it to Roland, “Every choice, every decision you’ve ever and never made exists in an unimaginably vast ensemble of parallel universes.”

And like Everything Everywhere …, experiencing those universes can therefore be a bit confusing, given that they actually exist all at the same time, not consecutively.

Keep that in mind when watching Constellations. If you weren’t aware of the concept when you saw, Everything Everywhere, even though the rest of the title, All at Once, should have been a clue, you might have been totally confused about what was going on in that movie.

Fortunately, instead of the bombardment of light, sound, and wildly changing scenery of the movie, Constellations in play form offers a kinder, gentler way to consider how lives are changed and affected by the decisions we make in our choice of relationships. Even so, it’s essential to remember that it’s not linear.

The cast of Constellations consists of only two actors, Roland and Marianne, and similar to the way some other theaters also have cast the play, the VLT production offers two sets of cast members, dividing up the performances between them.

Cast A features Michael Johnson as Roland and Jodi Arend as Marianne. The actors in Cast B are Blake “Teddy” Nelson as Roland and Eve James as Marianne.

Rich Scheeland directs the play, written by British playwright Nick Payne. At The VLT, it will be performed in the Stage Left theater space.

Constellations at The Very Little Theatre


Cast A: Evenings at 7:30 p.m. on May 3, 11, 16, 18; matinees at 2 p.m. on May 5 and 12

Cast B: Evenings 7:30 p.m. on May 4, 10, 17; matinee at 2 p.m. on May 19

Where: The Very Little Theatre, 2350 Hilyard St., Eugene, in the Stage Left theater space

Tickets: $22 general admission, available online at thevlt.com, through the box office in person or by telephone at 541-344-7751 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays. The lobby opens one hour before performance times.