5 & Dime: "Constellations" Review by Cameron Pfahler

July 16, 2016 1 comment Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

The latest offering from The 5 & Dime, A Theatre Company is a love story that flirts with both time and space. Constellations, written by Nick Payne, is a two-person drama with an experimental timeline that explores how parallel universes can be the perfect milieu for the many dimensions of romance and the human connection. The production’s final three performances run July 15th – 17th at the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens (http://www.cummermuseum.org/). Step into the multiverse and Cameron Pfahler's review after the jump.

photo by Seth Langner/Karmathartic Studios

Boy meets girl. It’s the humble beginning to a well-treaded, traditional story. But in the case of Constellations, even that part, the beginning, is quite unorthodox. The play is a simple story told in a complex way, showcasing the relationship between Roland and Marianne, as we follow the ups and downs of their shared path from one universe to the next. Essentially, each scene, ranging from mere moments to more than a few minutes, exists on an alternate timeline. The classic existential question – What if? – generates the experience of watching a play where characters’ decisions are seen from multiple perspectives, where choices are given so much weight because the slightest change can make a strong impact. With a piece like this, the real price to pay is attention. But it is well worth it.
Taking us through this brave, new multiverse are Kristin Alexander and Cory Simmons as cosmic lovers Marianne and Roland. A production like this relies heavily on acting chops and chemistry, and these two are more than up for the challenge. As Marianne, Alexander is emotionally available and vulnerable throughout, when she’s hurt or angry just as much when she’s goofy or sweet. Where some of Marianne’s dramatically juxtaposed scenes would’ve left a weaker actor struggling with the transitions, Alexander is an anchor for the audience against the waves of nonlinear storytelling. As Roland, Simmons maintains an easy likeability, often playing the straight man during Alexander’s comedic moments. But it’s the tenderness and understanding he shows that remind the audience that amidst the turmoil, hardships, and universe-hopping, this is, after all, about the beauty of human connection.

photo by Maya Adkins
Co-directors Lindsay Curry and Joshua McTiernan have wrangled the complexities of this tale to present an engaging, thought-provoking, and grounded production that benefits from its minimalism. The actors perform on a nearly bare set, constructed by Rick Farmer and Tom Fallon, beneath an intricate art installation, created by local artist Adam Walker Hill. Audience seating is in a circular fashion around the stage, allowing for unique vantage points of different scenes, depending on where one chooses a seat. A cellist, Wesley Navaille, provides some accompaniment alongside Erik Anderson’s sound design of key pieces and atmospheric noises. Also aiding in the storytelling is the lighting design by Jim Wiggins, which delineates certain scene transitions and supports the mood. Stage manager Sara Bryant, along with Kayla Fender, keeps things going smoothly from the lighting and sound boards. The actors make full use of the space, stepping offstage, countering their movements, and, in several instances, dancing, which is choreographed by Alexandra Bristol. Costume designer Lee Hamby provides outfits for the actors that represent their characters without tying them down to a specific time or place, though the English accents and bits of dialogue do hint at the world these two live in.
If you like entertainment that brings both laughter and tears while making you think, then Constellations is not to be missed. Get tickets for the final performances this weekend. It’s a bold choice for local theatre, a marriage of simplicity and complexity that works quite well in this universe and surely in many of the other ones as well.      

The 5 & Dime and New Leaf Construction Inc.

a new play by Nick Payne

Directed by Lindsay Curry and Joshua McTiernan

Cory Simmons as ROLAND
Kristin Alexander as MARIANNE

and Wesley Navaille on Cello

July 8, 9, 15 & 16 at 7:30pm
*doors open at 5:00pm for Dinner at The Cummer Café and to peruse the gardens and galleries

July 10 & 17 at 2:00pm
*doors open at noon for lunch at The Cummer Café and to peruse the garden and galleries

$20 general admission
*ticket prices include admission to museum and gardens

Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens
829 Riverside Avenue
Jacksonville, Florida 32204

For tickets visit

and more information visit