Frankly, Passengers, the new production on stage at Seattle Rep is a tough show to review…it’s not really anything you can easily label. It’s not a play and it’s not a musical and while it’s full of circus-y elements, it’s also not quite a circus event. I think the ideal way to describe it is “Light Entertainment” which used to be something you saw frequently on stages and on television. It’s what we used to call “variety” or “music hall” and you went to your local theater every week to catch the new acts touring through town. Or, during the early days of television, you could catch such acts on The Ed Sullivan Show or The Kraft Music Hall.
Passengers isn’t a self produced Rep show; it’s a piece that’s toured for awhile now and it’s a production of the Montreal based The 7 Fingers arts collective which according to the press release, ” tells stories using death-defying acrobatics with a life-affirming theatricality that is unique to The 7 Fingers. Fascinated by the human condition, The 7 Fingers create performances that celebrate our world, our time, and our humanity.”
Which is a long way to say, they utilize a lot of elements from acrobatics and arty circus world…which makes sense because Montreal is probably the center of the arty cirque world thanks to the success of shows like Cirque du Soleil. Young performers from around the world who used to escape their hometowns by joining the circus, now flock to Montreal to attend a circus school.
And, that’s really the chief charm of Passengers…it’s good looking, talented, and athletic cast. Passengers has a nine track cast filled by a rotating succession of skilled young performers who take turns in various slots in the show. And, the roles don’t seem to be particularly gendered; it’s a very non-binary kind of show with lots of same gendered couplings present during the course of the evening. Which is both modern and refreshing.
Note that this cast changes so frequently, that the press photos don’t match the actual performers for the Seattle run and the program wasn’t even up to date with all the changes. It’s a physically changing show.
If you’re looking for a very specific plot to this show, you’re not going to find it. It’s a series of vignettes all rather loosely tied to the the idea of humans being passengers on a life journey but it’s really just an excuse for lots of terrific acrobatic work. There’s a bit of spoken word dialogue and live sung music but it’s mostly just action and an instrumental sound track.
The cast is adorable and attractive and their youth and energy and talent are the main attractions here. I very much enjoyed Passengers and it’s a lovely entertainment and I can easily recommend it but it’s also not one I neccessarily need to see again.
It’s sweet but slight like a dainty meringue you eat over the holidays…something that you cherish for about 10 seconds before moving on to something a bit more filling.