Nick Payne’s two-hander play Constellations is to be given a suitably starry revival in London, with four pairs of actors taking turns to play the central couple, whose relationship is set against the mind-boggling backdrop of quantum multiverse theory.
The play will open on 18 June with Sheila Atim and Ivanno Jeremiah as the couple. That duo will then alternate with Peter Capaldi and Zoë Wanamaker, Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey, and Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd throughout the summer.
Constellations, which was a hit at the Royal Court in London in 2012 with Rafe Spall and Sally Hawkins, will be staged by Michael Longhurst, its original director, who now runs the Donmar Warehouse. As the Donmar is undergoing essential building works to improve accessibility and ventilation the play will be performed at the Vaudeville theatre in the West End.
Longhurst said that the four lineups would offer multiple interpretations of a “life-affirming” play about choice. “Reviving Constellations with four brilliant casts in rep – varying the age, ethnicity, sexuality and nationality of the lovers – feels like a thrilling way to help reanimate the West End,” he said. The production will again feature Tom Scutt’s acclaimed design of a cluster of glowing white balloons that evokes, in Scutt’s words, “synapses in the brain and atoms and sperm and weddings and parties”.
While the Donmar is closed it will also present a short digital performance, Adult Children, written by Ella Hickson and created by Sacha Wares’ new company Trial & Error and ScanLAB Projects. The production will present a digital replica of the Donmar auditorium, with 3D scanning techniques used to capture the actors’ performances, and explore “the complex fragility of relationships in a time of social distance”.
The Donmar was one of the first West End theatres to reopen last summer after the first lockdown. When indoor venues were not yet permitted to stage live performance, it invited back audiences for the immersive sound installation Blindness, an hour-long adaptation of Portuguese author José Saramago’s novel about the panic caused by an epidemic. That production, which featured the voice of Juliet Stevenson and a striking lighting design by Jessica Hung Han Yun, has transferred to New York and will commence a UK tour this summer, visiting Oxford Playhouse, Lawrence Batley theatre in Huddersfield, Theatr Clwyd, Yvonne Arnaud in Guildford, Festival theatre in Edinburgh, Eden Court in Inverness and Poole Lighthouse.