Actors Katherine Amadeo and Antonio Amadeo have an advantage — they’re married — as they get ready to open in Constellations, the Nick Payne play that begins its run Saturday at 8 p.m. at GableStage in the Biltmore Hotel.
The Amadeos also have a disadvantage: They’re married.
The seemingly contradictory role the actors’ relationship could play in their performances is in keeping with the script itself. The two-hander from the young British playwright uses principles of physics to imagine multiple possibilities in a sentence, in a scene, in the outcome of different decisions.
“We’ve been married over 12 years. We know each other very, very well. We’re tremendously in tune,” Katherine Amadeo says.
“But there’s also a familiarity that a married couple has that can’t exist at the beginning of the play,” her husband adds. “That’s the acting challenge.”
Constellations premiered at London’s Royal Court Theatre in 2012, winning best play honors at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards. The play opened in New York for a limited 10-week run last January, with Jake Gyllenhaal making his Broadway debut opposite Ruth Wilson of the Showtime series The Affair.
At GableStage, Katherine portrays Marianne, a Cambridge University physicist specializing in “theoretical early universe cosmology,” while Antonio plays the working-class Roland, a beekeeper who sells exquisite honey. Joseph Adler, the company’s artistic director, chose the play and says that if not for the Amadeos — both of whom have appeared at GableStage, though not in the same play — it’s unlikely he would have done Constellations.
“I don’t think I’ve ever had a script that’s so hard to commit to memory. Remembering the order of scenes is very difficult, a real challenge for the actors,” Adler says. “Katie and Antonio can communicate without talking. They really do get along. And they can run lines on their way to and from rehearsals.”
The Amadeos are award-winning South Florida actors. He won a best actor Carbonell Award in 2007 for his performance in The Pillowman at GableStage; next month, he’ll receive a Silver Palm Award for playing Mitchell in the Island City Stage world premiere of Michael McKeever’s Daniel’s Husband. She just finished playing a starring role in The Mousetrap at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre (for a while, she was rehearsing in Coral Gables, then driving three hours to Jupiter to perform at night) and is the recipient of two Silver Palm Awards.
As if appearing in a complex play with slightly varying scene fragments weren’t enough, the Amadeos are juggling other roles too.
They’re parents to daughter Lara, 11, and son Max, 3, so school and childcare are everyday issues. The couple are co-founders (with Barry University theater associate professor John Manzelli) of The Naked Stage, the company that does the annual 24-Hour Theatre Project along with productions of such plays as No Exit, Miss Julie and The Turn of the Screw. Currently, the Amadeos are working on the design of The Station, the intimate theater space they plan to open on Clematis Street in West Palm Beach “in about a year and a half,” Antonio says.
Though quantum physics serves as the underpinning of Constellations, the actors and Adler stress that the audience doesn’t need to know anything about the science or the concept of a “multiverse” to get and enjoy the play.
“It deals with science and scientific concepts, but it’s a play about relationships; the science is woven into a love story,” Antonio says.
“I have that giant monologue where I’m explaining it in great detail, and I couldn’t memorize it until I understood [the science],” Katherine says, “but my dad used to discuss quantum mechanics with me, and he’d talk about it in great depth.”
The set for Constellations is abstract but contains six different locations which help the actors remember which version of a speech they’re delivering in any given moment.
“Essentially, we’re playing 15 different versions of ourselves,” Katherine says.
Constellations isn’t the usual “well-made play” that GableStage audiences are accustomed to seeing. But Adler was drawn to the script for many reasons, including the way it challenges the audience to go along for the ride.
“Circumstance can play such a huge role in how your life goes,” Adler says. “I’m not religious, but I’m not sure we have free will. This play illustrates that every relationship has infinite possibilities.”
If you go
What: ‘Constellations’ by Nick Payne.
Where: GableStage at the Biltmore Hotel, 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables.
When: Opens 8 p.m. Saturday; regular performances 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 20 (no evening performance Nov. 22).
Information: 305-445-1119 or www.gablestage.org.