Unusually for contemporary theatre, Passage presents a deeply poetic work that is emotionally saturated, physically intense and unafraid of taking on big spiritual questions.

Fiona Graham's finely crafted script has a surreal quality, rather like the TV series Lost, in which boundaries between the real and imaginary dissolve and the actors themselves appear unsure whether they inhabit the world of the living or dead.

The characters find themselves adrift in a small boat haunted by memories too painful to articulate. Stories of violence, loss, escape and repression slowly coalesce out of vivid shards of memory.

Audience members are left to make what they will of these potent fragments, and must stitch together their own understanding of the fluid narrative.

The production is visually stunning and has clearly benefited from an extended development process, with film projection, lighting and soundtrack all beautifully integrated into a cohesive whole.

The visual effects swirl around Stephen Bain's remarkable creation of a boat which could stand on its own as a sculptural object and provides a spectacular platform for the drama. The sense of instability created by the boat's sharply raked deck is intensified by having the entire structure in continuous motion and Nisha Madhan's largely unseen role as the "boat mover" makes a vital contribution to the production's dynamism.

Also impressive are the lighting, projection and sound effects that conjure up the presence of an ever-changing ocean on which the boat is tossed in the turbulence of storms or becalmed in the misty incandescence of still waters.

Lauren Jackson's direction emphasises the physicality of performance and Olivia Taouma's finely choreographed movement sequences powerfully dramatise the emotional conflict among the four actors who are constantly jostling for space in the unstable confines of the boat.

The talented cast all deliver strong performances in sharply delineated roles. Antonia Stehlin makes effective use of gesture to convey an impressive range of emotions, and Rachel Nash brings a welcome dash of humour as she playfully mimics other characters.

Donogh Rees establishes the imperious presence of a Christian zealot and Lavinia Uhila delivers a mesmerising performance as a lost youth who develops an independent spirit as she drinks in the stories of the older women.

What: Passage.
Where: Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre.
When: Until Saturday.