“Voyager One”: two connected tales of interstellar communication

Scene from "Voyager One"
"Voyager One" by Jared Michael Delaney is at NJ Rep Company in Long Branch

NJ Rep brings their audience another outstanding production

The New Jersey Repertory Company in Long Branch, the premiere venue for exciting and challenging new works, has come up with another in a string of outstanding productions with Voyager One by Jared Michael Delaney. It is a play that demands its audience’s attention, rewarding it with intertwined stories about communicating with people both here on Earth and out among the stars.

ne from "Voyager One"
“Voyager One” by Jared Michael Delaney is at NJ Rep Company in Long Branch

Voyager One is made up of two stories played out in alternating scenes. In the late 1970s, two NASA scientists, Carl and Sarah, prepare a list of music and other audio selections to be recorded on golden records as part of the two Voyager spaceships. In the far future, Ceygan, a scientist, is studying “Woman,” an artificial intelligence in female form which has just awakened after a 150-year dormancy since its arrival on Earth. In each story, the male character (played by Joe Carlson) initiates forming a working relationship with the female (played by Daven Ralston), although thankfully neither relationship evolves into a romance. The play demonstrates the difficulties of reaching true understanding through communication, showing that everyone—even an artificial intelligence—has something about themselves they wish to keep from others.

Evan Bergman skillfully guides his actors through the nuances of the play. Joe Carlson balances his characters’ need to know and desire to help with their attempts to respect boundaries. Daven Ralston’s characters try, in their own ways, to maintain an emotional distance until such time as their trust has been justified. An additional character in the future story is Ceygan’s database, heard but not seen. As voiced by Mare Akana, the database, while maintaining a neutral tone of voice, uses timing and phrasing to convey a sense of burgeoning feelings and thoughts. It is a difficult task, but one Ms. Akana performs splendidly.

Scenic designer Jessica Parks sets the play on a stark white stage with a large central table and two chairs. Lighting designer Jill Nagle and sound designer Merek Royce Press create stunning special effects, especially during the future story. Patricia E. Doherty’s costumes consist of basic outfits with accessories that quickly and easily convey character changes.

NJ Rep Company in Long Branch sign
NJ Rep Company in Long Branch

Jared Michael Delaney’s Voyager One is a tersely-written 90 minute play with not one word of padding. This is a play with outstanding acting and fine direction. It is a privilege to watch, and the New Jersey Repertory Company is to be applauded for presenting it. I cannot more strongly recommend that you make the trip to Long Branch to see Voyager One before its run ends.

Voyager One is presented by the New Jersey Repertory Company at the Lumia Theatre in Long Branch through July 21, 2019. For tickets and information, visit njrep.org.


Allen Neuner
Allen Neuner is the theater reviewer at Out in Jersey magazine. Jersey born and raised, Allen went to his first Broadway play in 1957 and has been deliriously in love with live theater ever since. Allen has been accepted into the American Theatre Critics Association, a professional organization of theatre journalists. He has been partnered to music reviewer Bill Realman Stella, with whom he is also deliriously in love, for over 20 years. They live in an over-cluttered house in Somerville.