Maria Isabella Rojas. (Photo credit: Jonathan Slaff)

Michael Garrett Boxleitner and Maria Isabella Rojas. (Photo credit: Jonathan Slaff)

By: Darryl Reilly

So, you’ve these two theories that are completely at odds with each other. Relativity covers the sun, the moon, the stars, while quantum mechanics takes care of molecules, quarks, atoms—that sort of thing. We’ve effectively asked the same question twice and came up two completely different answers.

That is really sexy by the way.

British author Nick Payne’s 2012 award-winning science fiction-type play Constellations remains a compelling and fresh take on the eternal Boy Meets Girl setup; Place: The Multiverse. Time: Parallel Past, Present and Future. It has been given a spirited Off-Off Broadway revival by the New York City-based The Company We Keep (TCWK), a theater troupe comprised of primarily Latinx artists.

A young couple enter onstage, and for 80 fast paced minutes the many possibilities and vicissitudes of their impending relationship are depicted. Marianne is a physicist and Roland is a beekeeper who meet at a mutual friend’s barbecue in England. Courtship, settling down, infidelity, personality clashes, breakups, reconciliations, catastrophic illness and death, are among life’s challenges the articulate couple grapple with. The notion of parallel universes with people in a variety of shifting scenarios has long been a staple of dramatic literature, in Constellations this is given a dynamic rendering. It is theatrically realized by Mr. Payne’s staccato repetition of his artful dialogue with slight narrative variations demonstrating the possibilities of various outcomes in alternative versions of the characters’ interactions.

Maria Isabella Rojas. (Photo credit: Jonathan Slaff)

The sleek and animated Maria Isabella Rojas offers a feisty yet tender characterization of Marianne. Ms. Rojas possesses a sunny stage presence, an appealing voice and magnetic femininity, which all endow her affective performance with aching depth. Michael Garrett Boxleitner’s bearded beaming face, youthful everyman persona and his impeccable English accent, inform his rich realization of Roland. Rojas and Boxleitner’s charged romantic chemistry achieve a beautiful Love Story-style dimension.

Michael Garrett Boxleitner. (Photo credit: Jonathan Slaff)

Director Cristina Duarte wonderfully guides her two actors to their impactful turns while spatially maneuvering them with visual flair. Ms. Duarte also employs masterful stagecraft for this ravishing small-scale production. Scenic designer and technical director Evan Frank contributes an entrancing landscape to present this fascinating tale. The black accented stage is set with four connected circular performance platforms, bordered by changing colored neon, there are futuristic hanging globular lighting fixtures and a black-beaded curtain hanging in the background, all transporting us to the cosmos. David Castaneda’s ethereal lighting design joltingly accentuates the presentation as does sound designer Valeriya Nedviga’s piercing effects and lilting musical sequences.

In 2012, Constellations’ London premiere won the 2012 Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Play and was nominated for the 2013 Olivier Award for Best New Play. The 2015 Broadway production starred Jake Gyllenhaal and Ruth Wilson. Among several other honors Mr. Payne has received, was the second annual Harold Pinter Award, which supports a newly commissioned play for London’s Royal Court Theatre. That particular prize is most fitting, as Constellations is akin to Pinter’s work. Its precise yet extravagant dialogue, intense examination of the relationship between men and women, and delving beyond linear structure are reminiscent here, but not imitative. There is also the essence of Tom Stoppard on display in the occasionally dense scientific passages which channel his slyly detailed wordplay.

Michael Garrett Boxleitner and Maria Isabella Rojas. (Photo credit: Jonathan Slaff)

The Company We Keep’s searingly intimate incarnation of Nick Payne’s Constellations faithfully presents his profound vision while showcasing the immense talents of Maria Isabella Rojas and Michael Garrett Boxleitner.

Constellations (through April 28, 2024)
The Company We Keep (TCWK)
Chain Theatre, 312 West 36th Street, in Manhattan
For tickets, visit
Running time: 80 minutes with no intermission


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