Soho Rep presents this new fantasia on colonialism past and present by Obie Award winner Christopher Chen.
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
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.
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
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
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
See it if you love being challenged and have some introspection. The balance of subjectivity and objectivity is simply fascinating.
Don't see it if you have a weak back! There are only a few seat that have back support and it's 90 minutes without an intermission. My only complaint!
See it if You want to watch an immersive play about oppression & otherness without the material being too heavy-handed. Reminded me of Caryl Churchill
Don't see it if You are tired of watching plays about oppression and otherness. It's getting old, but this play isn't loud and overt like most plays today.
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
"'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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"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."
"'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."
"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."
“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.”