Constellations - plays branching and switching - and fragmentary Tolkien

I’d heard great things about, but never got to see, Nick Payne’s two-hander play “Constellations” featuring a cosmologist, a bee-keeper, and branching scenes to show the many alternative ways their story could have gone. (The Guardian explains more in its review of the original production.) So I was excited to see it appear for streaming on National Theatre at Home, with Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd…

After watching the the first part one evening, I quickly downloaded the rest of it the next morning to watch on the train to work… and discovered I’d got the production with Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey. So I saw the middle section with them and, once home, finished it with the cast I’d started with.

Constellations photo with Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O'Dowd Constellations photo with Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey

Images from National Theatre web page for the production

I’m not sure that’s how the director intended for it to be seen. (Or perhaps, in the context of the play, seeing how it would be if different actors had been cast and gender pairings had been switched around is very much how he would have wanted it. And I now see still another two recordings there, one with Peter Capaldi / Zoë Wannamaker and one with Sheila Atim / Ivanno Jeremiah.)

In the same style, if I ever want to see Tolkien’s trilogy, I could start with Ralph Bakshi’s “The Lord of the Rings” (1978) (which, despite the title, only covered the first part), move on to Peter Jackson’s “The Two Towers” (2002) (living with the overlap as Bakshi did actually get as far as the Battle of Helm’s Deep), and finish off with the Rankin and Bass “The Return of the King” (1980) - the last of which I’ve never actually seen, but seeking what YouTube can tell me of it, I find that Jess of the Shire’s review found it underwhelming - even if it does bring us the Orcish musical number Where there’s a whip there’s a way.)

Poster for Bakshi Lord of the Rings Poster for Jackson The Two Towers Poster for Rankin/Bass Return of the King

Posters from IMDB: The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King

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