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

Critic Reviews (11)

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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