Constellations by Nick Payne

Playing at the Chain Theatre in New York

By: - Apr 23, 2024

Constellations by Nick Payne debuted on the West End in London and also on Broadway. Now it has a production at the Chain Theatre off-Broadway. An innovative new theatre group, The Company We Keep, is mounting the play. The engaging work exists in parallel universes and becomes, as the producers suggest, an immersive experience, suggesting the myriad ways in which each of our life experiences might expand. 

A beekeeper and a quantum physicist meet at a picnic. They then traverse parallel universes–wondering where fate and chance will lead them. Payne’s characters, as realized in this production by Michael Garrett Boxleitner and Maria Isabella Rojas, charm as they dip into sparks of love, of union, of separation. Christina Duarte directs. 

The concept of the play is heavy-duty intellectual. Yet its realization in language and in its delivery is fun and touching. An intimate setting brings the audience closer to the characters. Suggestive elliptical paths and planets like balloons float above the stage.  Two areas separate one part of the universe from another.  

You don't have time to contemplate Robert Frost’s ‘road not taken.’ You do get caught up wondering ‘what if?’  Here Marianne asks:  How much do you know about theoretical physics? Quantum mechanics?  Roland passes.  

Emotional temperatures go from cool to heated.  Anger flares up.  And action resolves into a tenderness from time to time.  

It’s not 'let’s do it over again and get it right this time.'  Rather we jolt into another course and the outcome can be the same, or different.  You feel a bit like you’re twisting in the wind.

Cosmologists study the after-effects of the Big Bang. String theory has bubble universes with diverse physical properties. The set for Constellations is full of bubbles. The dialogue creates them in words. Even in American Sign.  Incidentally we gain deeper insights into the nature of reality. Scientists are looking for the collision of the bubbles right now.

Playing through April 28.