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Mercury Players present staged reading of ‘Constellations’

‘Constellations’ will be performed at Sands Funeral Chapel Reception Centre on April 27 at 7 p.m.
Mercury Players present a staged reading of Nick Payne’s ‘Constellations’ on April 27 inside the Sands Funeral Chapel Reception Centre. Constellations is directed by Adrian Ingham with local actors Rien Vesseur and Lisa Read lending their voices to the roles of Roland and Marianne who have a chance meeting at a party. (Courtesy of Mercury Players)

If the stars align, theatre lovers will not want to miss out on the staged reading of Nick Paynes’s Constellations presented by Mercury Players on April 27 at 7 p.m., inside the Sands Funeral Chapel Reception Centre.

Those unfamiliar with a staged reading are in for a treat. It is theatre in its purest form — no set, no props, and costumes are minimal at best. No dramatic light changes — just the actors interacting, and performing the story with their scripts in front of them.

Constellations is directed by Adrian Ingham who was born in Calgary, and grew up in the Cowichan Valley. He was recently seen playing the role Tartuffe in the Mercury Players’ production of the same name this past March. This will be Ingham’s second time donning a director’s cap.

READ MORE: Review: ‘Tartuffe’ is a visual delight with all the right stuff

“I used to be very involved in theatre in high school, then put it down for about 25 years, before picking it up again,” said Ingham. “In recent history, I’ve been at it for about 10 years. I did direct a play called The Babies back in high school, even made it to the festival of the arts, but this is the first time since.”

Ingham gets to flip the script for this staged reading as he directs Rien Vesseur who directed him in Tartuffe. Vesseur reads for the role of Roland, a bee keeper, alongside fellow local actress Lisa Read who lends her voice to the role Marianne, a a theoretical physicist.

The two meet at a party, and in that single moment, an unfathomable multitude of possibilities unfold. Their chance meeting might blossom into a meaningful relationship, a brief affair or lead to nothing at all. Each step along those possible paths in turn offers a new series of potential outcomes: a marriage can exist alongside a breakup and a tragic illness can exist on a parallel plane to a happily ever after. This romantic tale plays out over a myriad of possible lifetimes, capturing the extraordinary richness of being alive in the universe, according to organizers.

“I was initially drawn to the play through the sharp wit and writing, and it seemed like a fun challenge to try to portray the changes in dimensions without any special effects or lighting,” said Ingham. “It also deals with the topic of ending your life on your own terms when faced with fatal illness, and whether people should have that choice. My own mother refused to allow an IV at the end of her battle with Parkinson’s when she could no longer swallow and could see the signs of dementia setting in, so this hits close to home for me.”

“My favourite part of directing this has been shaping a strategy to show the dimensional changes through acting alone, and seeing what Rien and Lisa have brought to their characters,” said Ingham. “I was very lucky to have such high calibre talent audition, as the dimensional challenge can only really be solved with good acting. Rien has also been my director for many shows, but I haven’t seen him act much, so it’s been nice to see him show off a little.”

The admission for Constellations is by donation. Doors open for those with a reservation at the Ypres Street entrance at 6:30. Seats can be reserved online at Admission will also be available at the door beginning at 6:45 for those who choose to leave the chance to see it in the hands of the universe.

“I hope people leave this show feeling like they’ve been taken on a dizzying journey through time and space, with tears and laughter, and are left with a desire to go and see the full production next season,” said Ingham.