I sincerely hope that choreographers Andrée Charlebois and Jenn Macquarrie continue to develop this show as a continuing artistic project, because there’s a kernel of a good show here that needs to be encouraged to grow.
Using Highland dance and traditional Gaelic songs, Passages tells the story of the Scottish people before, during, and after the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion, when several Scottish clans under the leadership of Bonnie Prince Charlie tried and failed to throw off the yoke of their hated English conquerors. Facing severe restrictions on their traditional way of life afterward, many Scottish were lured by the promise of cultural freedom in the New World.
It’s a lofty goal to tell the story of an entire culture during a very trying time in that culture’s history in one hour, but the structure of the show is set up in such a way that each section has just enough time spent on it. The pre-rebellion scene takes up less than 10 minutes, and the stylized battle scenes afterward are only a few minutes longer than that. Appropriately, the bulk of the show falls on the oppressed survivors of the rebellion, who have some difficult choices to make.
The performers are all dancers first and foremost, but the few songs that are sung really help to drive home the mood. There are some brief acting scenes that could use more natural dialogue, and the tone of those scenes include some very obvious emotional appeal that could easily be trimmed out. Given the already Brechtian nature of the song and dance as well as straightly addressing the audience, there’s a lot further this show could go in that direction.
As a dance show this one stands out a bit from what one usually sees at Fringe, but it’s worth a try if only to encourage the creative minds behind it to keep going with it.
Choreographed by Andrée Charlebois and Jenn Macquarrie
Performed by Émilie Bradley, Andrée Charlebois, Brigitte Charlebois, Stéphanie Chiasson, Kalene DeBaeremaeker, Emily Keenan, Sultanna Krispil, Jenn Macquarrie, Karine Mayers, Emily Moreau, Marina Ridley, Amy Shelton
Presented by Caithream Celtic Dance Fusion
Playing at Arts Court Theatre