New York | Ends Jun 02


From 11 critic and 10 member reviews
Members say: Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Ambitious

About the show

Soho Rep presents this new fantasia on colonialism past and present by Obie Award winner Christopher Chen.

Exeunt Magazine

"An enigmatic play, but the plot is made crystal clear by the playwright’s great care with every word, as well as Ali’s brilliant direction...The big abstract ideas of the play are delivered in a specific and nuanced story with sympathetic, albeit flawed characters...One of the most diverse casts I’ve ever witnessed...The cast is wildly talented...The production is pristine in its execution, but also sustains the playfulness of those seemingly simple theatrical tricks." Full Review

Time Out New York

"Chen’s text takes colonialism out of any specific racial or temporal context in order to examine power, exploitation and resistance as nakedly as possible...Yet intertwined with these political arguments is a real and affecting drama...Chen’s remarkable writing is supported by a design team that does wonders while seeming to do very little...Unashamedly political yet deeply humane, it’s a difficult journey that is well worth the trouble." Full Review


"Tremendously compelling...thanks largely to Mr. Chen’s considerable technical skill as a playwright. In his hands, 'Passage' efficiently crystalizes highly nuanced issues and situations with scalpel-like precision, resulting in pointedly realized scenes. Suffice to say, Mr. Chen’s play drew me almost immediately with their superbly articulated narrative and perspectives...The superb cast of eight bring tremendous transparency and humanity to their carefully delineated roles." Full Review


"Christopher Chen's exquisite and mystical 'Passage' is inspired by E.M. Forster's 'A Passage to India,' borrowing its plot and character relationships. But while the novel was simply about the British colonization of India, Chen has something bigger in mind. Chen calls the two locales Country X and Country Y so that the audience can fill in whatever two countries they wish in whatever time. Director Saheem Ali's superb multicultural cast offers the maximum in diversity." Full Review

The Wrap

"Chen’s use of the letters X and Y gives him enormous freedom, and he uses it to powerful effect. That’s also true of the dozen lettered characters on stage...It’s a credit to Chen’s powers as a writer that each of these encounters immediately engages, and in under an hour, he establishes a wide panorama of a society under siege but still functioning...Much credit here goes to the very understated but immensely empathetic performances delivered by Powell and Moggie." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"The sheer absence of detail makes the early part of 'Passage' rather dull, reducing the characters to abstract talking heads...Still, Chen's approach begins to pay dividends as one exchange after another quietly explodes with conflict...That 'Passage' becomes steadily more gripping is also a tribute to the keen-eyed direction of Saheem Ali and his fine ensemble." Full Review

The New York Times

"'Passage' sometimes feels more like a therapeutic workshop than a narrative drama. But the cast members speak their lines with a care and conviction that gives mooring specificity to instincts that many people traditionally experience in strange lands. It’s in the play’s second part...that Mr. Chen’s adherence to Forster’s original plot shows strain...Nonetheless, Mr. Ali confidently modulates the pace throughout. And his production includes two exquisitely theatrical moments." Full Review

Front Row Center

“A great big Nothing Burger. It is, however, presented by some top-notch actors. Thus, what could be a disaster of an evening remains afloat,..Has the feel of a spiritual seminar...This is a supremely well-intentioned piece...With ‘Passage’ Chen swaps out specificity for generalities, details for philosophy, and emotions for platitudes. It ends up being a singularly uninteresting event – despite the intentions of the author and the fine work of this cast.” Full Review


"Chen and his director Saheem Ali ensure that, if nothing else, their audience members are on equal footing...If it all sounds a little clinical, that's occasionally how it feels. Chen does his best to draw nuance from characters that inherently sound like placeholders, but that being the case, it's not always clear whether to empathize with them as human beings, or dispassionately study their situations like a political analyst." Full Review

New York Magazine / Vulture

"There’s something so earnest, so calmly and smilingly solicitous, about 'Passage' that the production can begin to feel like a focus group or a seminar on some particularly sensitive topic — and, in a sense, it is. But all the same, I couldn’t help feeling the play’s engine sputter whenever the audience had to have its temperature taken...At its bravest, 'Passage' leans into its own possibly insoluble complexities and keeps making its way forward and down." Full Review

New York Stage Review

"'Passage' is an interesting experimental work that maintains one’s attention, but its deliberate intent to make viewers think about the issue rather than feel about the characters makes for a more clinical than dramatic experience. Some rather stiff dialogue and a hasty conclusion also undermine the play’s effectiveness...Some capable performances by a multinational ensemble and a fine production directed by Saheem Ali strengthen the work." Full Review

Thought-provoking, Profound, Great staging, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you want a harrowing picture of colonialism, otherism, and racism.

Don't see it if you don’t want to be challenged and retrospective about hard, real topics.

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Epic, Absorbing, Enchanting

See it if You want intelligent, thoughtful meditations on deep sociocultural traumas embedded in us all.

Don't see it if You need very linear, very clear theater and have no patience for philosophical discourse or metatheatrics

Also First things first, Christopher Chen is an amazing playwright, but thi... Read more Read less

Resonant, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if if you like theatre that skillfully provokes and raises uncomfortable questions

Don't see it if you prefer comedy and musicals to serious drama.

Also I am still thinking about this play days after seeing it....inspired t... Read more Read less

Resonant, Relevant, Refreshing, Ambitious, Absorbing

See it if a cerebral intense fantasia on Forster's Passage to India from playwright Chris Chen. beautifully directed by Saheem Ali with fine cast

Don't see it if if intense intellectual plays on themes of colonialism and oppression are not your cuppa tea, this is not for you

Intelligent, Great writing, Great staging, Great acting, Clever

See it if this was amazing truly one of the best works of the 21st century see this not matter what it takes

Don't see it if We live in a post colonial society you have to see this you don’t get a choice

Confusing, Profound, Thought-provoking, Clever, Absorbing

See it if One of the best shows that display and contest colonialism and prejudices At times challenging to watch, yet at others comforting & communal

Don't see it if If you don't want to be provoked, challenged. Some loud noises & disturbing plot line.

Also This is the kind of theater should be produced across the U.S.

During previews
Thought-provoking, Great staging, Ambitious, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if you're okay with seeing plays that don't have a straight-forward narrative that also occasionally break the fourth wall.

Don't see it if you are looking for a straightforward retelling of A Passage of India.

Also This is a really interesting remix of A Passage to India - my companio... Read more Read less

During previews
Innovative, Sketchy, Hybrid, Tedious, Admirable

See it if you’re interested in how colonialism’s legacy shapes both former colonizers & colonized as they operate in the current global economy.

Don't see it if you want a finished theater piece: this production feels unequal to the task it sets for itself.

Also Saheem Ali’s production of Christopher Chen’s “Passage” is strikingly ... Read more Read less

During previews
Ambitious, Slow, Thought-provoking

See it if You are interested in anything racism, colonialism, otherism. This conceptual (characters identified only as letters) show may be for you.

Don't see it if The ideas of people (though well acted) seem devoid of humanity, leaving things too dry for us to care.

During previews
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You like downtown theatre that makes a statement.

Don't see it if You don't want to take your shoes off or need special seating arrangements - this was a very physically uncomfortable theatre experience

Cast & Creatives (3)