Review: A.C.T. presents ‘Passengers” by The 7 Fingers (*****)

“Passengers” by The 7 Fingers. Photo credit: Alexandre Galliez

by Charles Kruger

Reviewed by a voting member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle.

Someone on Facebook wrote, “I’m not sure I want to see “Passengers” at A.C.T. Isn’t it just an acrobatic act, not a play?

Um, no. “Passengers” is not “just” anything. And the company that presents it, “The 7 Fingers” are to a typical troop of acrobats what The Three Stooges would be to the Comédie-Française.

Forget what you know about circus arts. Although the circus skills exhibited here are phenomenal and will make you gasp in astonishment, the point is that they are being used here as a language to explore a wide range of human emotion. A somersault here is not just a body in space; it is a statement about the human soul. Juggling is not merely entertainment, but a fully developed metaphor for the the challenge of maintaining one’s balance in life. The trapeze is not a flying act but a meditation on love and vulnerability. You get the idea? I’m barely scratching the surface.

The premise is simple: a group of people are passengers on a train. The creation of this environment is complete. Using their bodies, the performers create the life of a passenger car over a 24 hour period. Through their body language, they take us through morning, noon, and night, including the dreams of the strangers who are here brought together.

We see love affairs begun and dissolved, fantasies explored, memories elucidated, emotions revealed. It is an hour and a half of pure magic.

Each individual performer presents a fully realized character, not just a body in space. Each different, each wonderful.

Many of the effects are astounding, perhaps none more than the moment where the train passes through the desert, and several of the actors become tumble weeds. Not just tumbleweeds, but individual tumbleweeds, of different shapes and weights, responding to the wind in different ways, encountering obstacles or being lifted off the ground and blown through the air. I’ve never seen anything like it, and, I’ll wager, neither have you.

It is as if we are seeing circus skills as they might be performed by world class ballet dancers. Mark this: any one of these performers could have chosen a career in ballet or any other dance form, or conventional acting.  Circus is their language, but their message is universal.

“Passengers” is an amazing delight. Perfect for audiences of all ages. If you go, you will remember The 7 Fingers for a lifetime.

“Passengers” continues at A.C.T.’s Toni Rembi Theater through October 9. For further information click here.


Rating: ***** (For an explanation of TheatreStorm’s rating scale, click here.)

“Passengers” from The 7 Fingers, presented by A.C.T. Created in collaboration with the original cast: Sereno Aguilar Izzo, Louis Joyal, Maude Parent, Samuel Renaud, Sabine Van Rensburg, Brin Schoellkopf, Freyja Wild, Conor Wild. Musical Director: Colin Gagné. Scenic Design: Ana Cappelluto. Costume Design: Camile-Thibault-Bédard. Lighting Design: Éric Champoux. Video Design: Johnny Ranger. Assistant to the Director: Isabelle Chassé. Head Coach: Francisco  Cruz.


Kaisha Dessalines-Wright. Beto Freitas. Marco Ingaramo. Nella Niva. Mandi Orozco. Santiago Rivera. Dina Sok. Andrew Sumner. Méliejade Tremblay-Bouchard.

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