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Art

Playwright explores romance in multiple universes

Silvia Cassini and Philip Coulson co-star in ‘Constellations’ opening next Thursday night at Braeburn Theatre. photo | Courtesy
Silvia Cassini and Philip Coulson co-star in ‘Constellations’ opening next Thursday night at Braeburn Theatre. photo | Courtesy 

It might be difficult to imagine a romance, leave alone a love affair, between a theoretical physicist and a beekeeper. Particularly when the physicist is a university academic and a woman who specialises in theoretical early universe cosmology’.

That’s a field that fellows like the late Prof Stephen Hawkings and many others popularised. It has also been a playground for writers to explore in everything from comic books and video games to TV series like ‘Buffy and the Vampire Slayer and Doctor Who, and films like the Star Trek franchise.

Yet apparently, it was not simply science fiction that inspired the British playwright Nick Payne to write a play about such an improbable relationship. “It was a BBC documentary on the multiverse that inspired him to sit down and write Constellations,” says Silvia Cassini who’s performing Payne’s popular play next week at Braeburn Theatre for two nights only— June 7 and June 8.

Silvia is better known for being a playwright herself, the author and director of A Man like You which has been well received in New York and Hong Kong as well as here and in Harare where she first saw Constellations performed. “And it’s stuck with me ever since,” she tells Business Daily between rehearsing scenes of the show with her co-star Philip Coulson and with their director, John Sibi Okumu.

Philip is also better known for being something other than an actor, namely a lawyer (and occasional auctioneer). Yet some of us see lawyers as performers whose role is convincing juries and judges of their client’s innocence. In any case, Silvia’s the theoretical physicist concerned with cosmology while Philip plays the beekeeper. They meet at an ordinary bar-b-que and quickly strike up a conversation that leads them literally into “multiverses”, apparently in and out of this world and into what can only be described as “parallel universes”.

The shifts between time and space and an infinite array of other dimensions transpires in just over an hour, 70 minutes. But in that brief span of time, the two explore everything from bees to black holes, pollinators and parallel universes, bees wax and relativity. But one will have to see the show to find out if decisions made by these two will land them in realms that mutually resonant (like the sub-atomic particles in String theory) or whether their “close encounter” is like a comet passing in the starry night.

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