Play explores infinite nature of love

Dunedin actors Matt Wilson and Rosella Hart play a pair of lovers across a shifting cosmic...
Dunedin actors Matt Wilson and Rosella Hart play a pair of lovers across a shifting cosmic background in Nick Payne’s Constellations, opening tonight at Otago Museum. PHOTO: GREGOR RICHARDSON
Real-life Dunedin couple Matt Wilson and Rosella Hart play lovers across multiple universes in Nick Payne’s Constellations — the inaugural offering from the city’s newest professional theatre company Hic Sunt Dracones ("Here be Dragons").

Constellations runs from tonight until Sunday, at 7pm, then May 29 to June 1, at Tūhura Otago Museum’s Beautiful Science Gallery.

Directed by Kim Morgan, Constellations is an award-winning dramedy about love, life, and loss in the multiverse, featuring just two characters — he’s a beekeeper and she’s a quantum physicist.

The couple must navigate the infinite possibilities of their relationship, from heartbreak to hope, against the cosmic backdrop of ever-shifting realities across multiple universes.

Living busy lives, with commitments to work and children, Wilson and Hart have been "chipping away at" the play since July last year, working to get a handle on depicting the sometimes subtle shifts between the many versions of the relationship.

Hart said getting the chance to perform together was a rarity for the pair, especially having children, and the long lead-in had come in handy as they moved into the final two weeks of full-time rehearsals.

"Having a deep understanding of the characters is important, while we move through really quite different versions of the characters, or really it’s the same character, but we catch them on a different day."

Wilson said sometimes the relationship was brief "they meet and don’t get on and that’s it — and other times they go right through."

"There are at least four different versions of each scene and the tone is very different — it’s both laugh-out-loud funny and reach-for-your-hanky poignant."

Morgan said the best description of Constellations was "one relationship, infinite possibilities — there are 50 scenes and infinite ways each one could go".

"Eventually, the different versions do link up and make sense."

Morgan said the word-focused script of Constellations was very detailed, was specifically worded and "incredibly technical"for the actors.

The staging of the piece, designed by Matt Morgan, and Garry Keirle, would take full advantage of the Beautiful Science Gallery’s high-spec projectors, light and sound, to create an "immersive experience" for the audience.