Passage NYC Reviews and Tickets

77%
(22 Reviews)
Positive
86%
Mixed
9%
Negative
5%
Members say
Thought-provoking, Great acting, Absorbing, Relevant, Great staging

About the Show

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

Member Reviews (22)

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74
Confusing, Resonant, Thought-provoking, Intelligent, Ambitious

See it if Chen's cerebral labyrinth of a drama about identity, class structure & colonialism Well staged & designed for an edgy, disorienting effect

Don't see it if Takes time for concept to crystallize & still dense at times Politics often heavy handed & appropriation of EM Forester novel questionable

80
Great acting, Relevant, Clever, Ambitious, Thought-provoking

See it if you're interested in topics of racism, prejudice, and immigration. Some scenes more effective than others, but terrific acting from all.

Don't see it if you prefer a play that isn't purposefully ambiguous. Nothing is given a proper name so audience brings own interpretation. Read more

83
Thought-provoking, Great staging, Great acting, Relevant, Intelligent

See it if enjoy intelligent discussions, acted well, regarding those that have and those that don't. very topicial

Don't see it if want logs of action. most scenes are just two people so not a lot of interaction.

84
Abstract, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you like beautifully designed, zen-like sets, simple costumes/props/lighting w/ abstract, but rich dialogue. Makes you think about humanity

Don't see it if you prefer shows with a clear wall between the audience and characters. Not for those who want a concrete, understandable, & confined story. Read more

76
Resonant, Economical, Great direction, Thoughtful, Moving

See it if You are interested in how we connect in divided times, you have an interest in politics in theatre, see it to go on a journey

Don't see it if Not interested in politics or foreign relations, looking for something straightforward, not interested in topics like colonialism Read more

79
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

81
Riveting, Relevant, Clever, Great staging, Thought-provoking

See it if theatrical allegory for xenophobia/colonialism/racism appeals to you.

Don't see it if Have back problems (seating favors limber bodies), prefer literal stories. Read more

82
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 Read more

Critic Reviews (11)

The New York Times
May 5th, 2019

"'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."
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Time Out New York
May 9th, 2019

"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."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
May 6th, 2019

"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."
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Theatermania
May 5th, 2019

"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."
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Lighting & Sound America
May 6th, 2019

"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."
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New York Stage Review
May 6th, 2019

"'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."
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TheaterScene.net
May 19th, 2019

"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."
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Front Row Center
May 8th, 2019

“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.”
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Exeunt Magazine
May 6th, 2019

"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."
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The Wrap
May 5th, 2019

"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."
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I
May 6th, 2019

"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."
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