Dead Blogging ‘Ideation’ & ‘Constellations’ at Area Playhouses

Well the Missus and I trundled out to Watertown last week to catch Ideation (through September 24) at the New Repertory Theatre and say, it was swell.

Playwright Aaron Loeb has created “a darkly comic psychological thriller” that starts out as your run-of-the-mill brainstorming meeting at a consulting firm for a mysterious client, then turns increasingly sinister as we learn more about both the “morally ambiguous” hypothetical project being pursued and about the consultants themselves.

The actors – Christine Hamel, Ed Hoopman, Matt Ketai, Jake Murphy, and Lewis D. Wheeler – submit uniformly sharp performances. Jim Petosa’s direction is tight, and the set design by Ryan Bates nicely captures the play’s fractured sensibility.

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On Saturday the Missus and I trundled over to the Central Square Theater to see Constellations (through October 8), Nick Payne’s play about life as a multiple choice test, and say, it too was swell.

A mesmerizing romantic journey begins simply. Marianne and Roland meet at a party. They go for a drink. They fall madly in love and start dating. Or do they? There are infinite possibilities, and a single word may alter their lives at any moment.

Beyond that there’s beekeeping and quantum physics and ballroom dancing and lots more disconnected topics and emotions.

Marianna Bassham is wonderful as Marianne, and Nael Nacer is equally moving as Roland. Both exhibit an amazing ability to shift gears and personalities as their twinned narrative splits, resolves, unravels, and resolves again.

Kudos also to scenic designer Susan Zeeman Rogers and lighting designer Jeff Adelberg for their inventive staging.

This interview with Nael Nacer (who was heartbreaking in the Lyric Stage production of Intimate Apparel two years ago – for which he won an Elliot Norton Award) might give you a sense of the Russian Nesting Dolls quality of the drama.

 

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So, to summarize:

Two really smart, thought-provoking, superbly acted plays are currently running in the Boston area.

You’d be smart to catch them.

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