By Evo Joel Contrivida

 It could look exhausting for the two actors changing moods in seconds, but somehow, it was astonishing to see how the two developed chemistry, while shifting characters. With all praises to the direction, of course.

JC Santos (center) and Cris Villonco (right)

Now on its third season, Red Turnip Theater brings to Manila Nick Payne’s well-acclaimed  and unusual love story Constellations. It talks about “What If’s” in many aspects of love in time with the love month, this February.

It stars three-time Gawad Buhay winner Cris Villonco and Urian nominee JC Santos, who play lovers in this multiverse journey, under the direction of Rem Zamora. It premiered last February 12 at Power Mac Center Spotlight in Circuit at Makati City. The play runs up to March 6.

The Playwright, Nick Payne

Zamora, who happened to be one of Red Turnip founding member s, told Glitter.ph that they find Constellations  the type of love story that will make people think in a very unconventional structure. The elements of possibilities convince the group to make it the closing play for the season.

“When we read it, it’s complicated in its simplicity,” he said. “It’s a love story but the structure the way it was told was amazing, it was non-linear. I guess that’s what attracted us to do the material.”

Cris plays Marianne, while JC is Roland. it’s a story of boy meets girl, or girl meets boy. From the time they met  until the getting-to-know each other stage, and  up to  the relationship status, everything is changing,  with all possibilities that happened, or what if it didn’t happen. All together it happened in just 80 minutes, the total time run.

Santos admitted that even Villonco , at first, said that it’s really hard portraying this type of roles. It took time for them to change mood in a scene, but not for this play that showcase their charm and skills. Although for the cast, it’s a collaborative effort. Santos auditioned for the role, while Villonco was the first choice by Zamora for this Philippine premiere. Villonco is also one of the four founding members of Red Turnip, along with Zamora, Topper Fabregas and Ana Abad Santos.

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“I have to read it twenty times, kasi the whole thing is about chemistry. The challenging part is the shift and keeping the connection between the characters, kasi puede ka mag-let go anytime, puede mag-weaken ang character anytime, puede siya maging super strong, so pano mo bibigyan ng tamang timpla ang play na to, that’s a challenging part.” Santos explains.

Villonco is all praises with his leading man. She believed that Santos can go further with his passion and craft, not only in theatres but also in TV or even movies.  “ I love JC. I’ve worked with him when he’s still starting out in college. We did  Orosman at Zafira together then, and he’s so different from what he is now. I’m so proud of him. I really feel that he’s gonna be a star this year, with all the works his doing. But I know he’s also very dedicated to theatre, and very hardworking. I’m so glad that he can work with me, ‘coz I’m not that easy to work with,” Villonco said.

Payne is a recipient of the prestigious George Devine award in 2009 for his play Constellations. It opened in Royal Court Upstaires in January 2015, and was moved to Westend in November of the same year, after receiving a lot of good reviews. Last year, it was staged in Broadway, starring Jake Gylenhaal and Ruth Wilson.

“Nick Payne presents to you the possibilities, that’s more romantic, that’s more challenging than any straight forward love story I guess, the structure, the way it was written, not to be cliché, but it’s out of this world, those are materials and scripts that we thrive for.” Zamora added in closing.

Constellations artistic team includes John Batalla for the lights, Ed Lacson for the set design, Theresa Barrozo for the sound and Marta Lovina for the over all production design.

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