Eclectic Acrobatics Show 'Passengers' Dazzles in US Debut

by Sam Cronin

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday October 2, 2019

"Passengers"  (Source:Cimon Parent/ArtsEmerson for EDGE)

Opening its 10th year worldwide, "Passengers" by the 7 Fingers production studio made its US debut this month as part of a partnership with ArtsEmerson.

The electric show, consisting of eight supremely talented acro-artists, runs the gamut of both acrobatic feats and emotional content in an action-packed 90-minute performance. Despite the cast being as relatively small as eight, they have such an acute awareness of space and how to fill it that you might be forgiven for thinking there were 20 of them up there.

That awareness of space and the audience's field of vision was probably the most impressive thing about "Passengers." At any one time, there may be three people performing three completely separate acts. In one corner, a performer may be tight wire walking while another two are trapeze juggling each other high above, all at the same time as someone twirling half a dozen bronze hoops around her body. There's almost too much on stage at once to see it all, and certainly too much to allow you to blink comfortably for fear of missing something spectacular.

What made "Passengers" stand above a standard circus performance was its emotional content, though. What struck me was the cohesiveness of the message and mood from piece to piece. The film-noir style of the costumes and set pieces based in old-timey train stations set a dark mood full of nostalgia and the sting of hard goodbyes. Clearly, with a name like "Passengers" this show aimed to tackle travel and movement, but I was struck by how that message rang true in both the verbal and non-verbal aspects of the performance. Rather than simply having trapeze acts set in a train station, the choreography worked beautifully in tandem with the character-driven dialogue and costuming to emphasize how the movement of the performers was connected to their movement as people.

From the outset, "Passengers" aimed to show how intimately we are all connected. From ArtsEmerson Artistic Director David Dower's imploration against using flash photography ("flash photography kills acrobats") to the inspiring displays of collaboration by the performers, "Passengers" really took the audience for a ride- one we were all disappointed to see end.

"Passengers" runs from SEP 25 - OCT 13, 2019 at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theater. Be sure to check out the performance schedule and tickets here before the "Passengers" train rolls on.