ACT’s Heartwarming ‘Passengers’ Is Absolutely Brilliant

Get on board “Passengers” as fast as you can.

One of the sexiest shows of recent times, this intimate circus piece presented by the American Conservatory Theater is a high-speed journey of beautiful bodies hurtling through space, a kinetic sculpture of muscle and sinew that will take your breath away. .

Exquisitely directed and choreographed by Shana Carroll, this circus stunt from the 7 Fingers company, best known for “Dear San Francisco,” runs through October 9 at ACT’s newly renamed Toni Rembe Theatre. The sublime 105-minute piece sees train travel as a metaphor for the vagaries of life. We all bump into random strangers as we hurtle through time to a destination we may never reach, experiencing equal portions of wonder and regret.

Framed by subtle film noir-style projections (Eric Champoux lighting, Johnny Ranger videos) that imbue the movement with a timeless sensibility and the seduction of light and shadow, each fleeting interlude feels complete.

Drama, dance and acrobatics blend seamlessly as you lose yourself in this exciting narrative. If Cirque du Soleil enjoys pomp and show, 7 Fingers navigates the far more poignant territory of heartbreak, loss, and longing. The gymnastic virtuosity of the ensemble cannot be overstated, but there is much more here than sheer athleticism.

The body becomes a vehicle to reflect on deep inner truths. The carnal contortionist (Kaisha Dessalines-Wright), the whimsical juggler (Santiago Rivera Laugerud), and the aerial silk acrobat (Mandi Orozco) each explore an aspect of life, the connections we make, the fleeting passions we share, and the tragedies which also often interrupts the trip.

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Artists depict scenes from various stages in the relationship lifecycle, from courtship to breakup, delicately capturing the dynamics of each interlude with body language alone. There’s little dialogue and that’s a plus, because what’s there feels a bit awkward while the movement speaks volumes.

Meliejade Tremblay-Bouchard acts in “Passengers”. (Kevin Berne/American Conservatory Theater)

Here traditional circus elements, hula hoops (Méliejade Tremblay-Bouchard), tightrope (Dina Sok) and juggling (Laugerud) seem elevated to the level of existential exploration. The movement shines with a poetry of its own.

Carroll masterfully takes the exploits to surprisingly dark places. A climactic trapeze act (Beto Freitas and Andrew Sumner) evokes the lure of despair and the specter of sudden death. These artists stretch their imaginations as much as their limbs, always pushing themes a little further, a little deeper, until you find yourself on your feet, clapping wildly, your heart in your mouth. You can’t help but yearn for another ride.

Contact Karen D’Souza at [email protected]


‘PASSENGER’

Created and Directed by Shana Carroll, Presented by American Conservatory Thea

Through: October 9

Where: Toni Rembe Theater (formerly Geary Theatre), 415 Geary St., San Francisco

Execution time: 105 minutes, no intermission

Where: Toni Rembe Theatre, 415 Geary St., San Francisco

Tickets: $25-$110; www.act-sf.org

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