A group of people stand in the shadows near an archway. A crack above the arch is lit with a green light. A man in a green robe stands center in front of them.
Passage at Remy Bumppo Theatre Company Credit: Nomee Photography

Before the house lights go down, the cast of Passage stands in a flat line on a stage dappled with lights and fractured diagonally from floor to far wall. They introduce themselves by details plausible enough to be true: their names, which match the actors’ names in the program, as well as how they got there—CTA or car, from the south side, Rogers Park, Lakeview, Lincoln Park—and where their ancestors are from: Mexico, Taiwan, Nigeria. This is the last time that any of these identifying marks are available or made anything of. The rest of the evening, these people are named only by letters—F (Patrick Agada) and Q (Leyla Beydoun), who are newcomers to Country X from Country Y; B (Charin Alvarez), a Country X doctor; G (Peter Sipla), a narrator, and so on. Country Y has colonized Country X. That’s the story, that’s the setting, and learning the characters of Countries X and Y is done via dialogues, a Socratic method for the elucidation of ideal Platonic nations, which mostly occur seated on the colorless rectangular prisms placed and sometimes moved about the stage.

Through 4/10: Wed-Fri 7:30 PM, Sat 2:30 and 7:30 PM, Sun 2:30 PM; also Thu 4/7, 7:30 PM; Sat 4/9, 7:30 PM only; audio description/touch tour performance Sat 3/19 (touch tour begins at 1 PM); open caption performance Sat 4/2, 2:30 PM; Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont, remybumppo.org, $35-$55 ($20 industry tickets Wed-Thu, students $15 day of show). 

Passage, written by Christopher Chen and directed by Kaiser Ahmed, succeeds in eluding emotional investment because of its desire to present abstract universality. The details that manage to manifest amid a story loosely inspired by E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India, particularly the striking use of masks to make humans into enigmatic and riddling animals (Carolyn Hu Bradbury as Mosquito, Adam Poss as Gecko), are the most memorable, also the least essential to the story, also the most essential to any flicker of feeling among these shadows. There are caves. Weird things happen in the caves.