Head of Passes
Closed 2h 0m
Head of Passes

Head of Passes NYC Reviews and Tickets

(70 Ratings)
Members say
Great acting, Great staging, Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking

About the Show

The Public Theater presents the New York premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney's new drama about family and faith, trials and tribulations, starring Tony winner Phylicia Rashad.

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Show-Score Member Reviews (70)

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416 Reviews | 190 Followers
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Intense, Thought-provoking

See it if You like real life family situation dramas that are exquisitely well-written and perfectly cast.

Don't see it if You have no feelings for others and live in a box or cave.

61 Reviews | 35 Followers
Absorbing, Great acting, Great staging, Masterful, Riveting

See it if You admire incredible acting. Phylicia Rashad delivers a chilling monologue that is awe-inspiring.

Don't see it if There is no reason not to see it.

95 Reviews | 28 Followers
Exquisite, Enchanting, Great acting, Resonant, Thought-provoking

See it if you're looking for a masterpiece performance from Phyllicia Rashad, spectacular design, and deeply-felt, elegant writing

Don't see it if you prefer your family dramas neat and tidy

263 Reviews | 108 Followers
Beautiful staging, Must see, Riveting, Terrific performances, Funny

See it if You've heard how amazing Phylicia Rashad is because it's all true. Kyle Beltran turns it out again. Also the set is not to be missed.

Don't see it if You're not a fan of plays about race or parables (i.e. a modern take on the story of Job). Otherwise don't miss out.

57 Reviews | 41 Followers
Great acting, Great staging, Quirky, Must see, Resonant

See it if Go! It creaks, moans, is heavy & brilliant. Phylicia R is magnificent. Cast is great, shout-out to Alana A. Set is alive! Directionsogood.

Don't see it if 'uneven' is a dirty word: if you can absorb whisky, God, starlight mints, Shakespeare, cake, friends, doubt without exploding, you're good

197 Reviews | 74 Followers
Great acting, Great staging, Intense, Dizzying, Absorbing

See it if you want to see a truly astonishing piece of acting. Phylicia Rashad is an emotional tornado tearing up the stage of the Public

Don't see it if you don't like serious drama; this is an emotional play about faith, loss and love of family

262 Reviews | 116 Followers
Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Must see, Profound

See it if To watch Ms. Rashad tear the roof off. Tarrell Alvin McCraney's writing. Wonderful, balanced ensemble. It's going to rip out your heart.

Don't see it if You don't tolerate religious characters. You don't want something so intense. But that'd be a shame.

273 Reviews | 200 Followers
Kyle beltran, Wonderful ensemble cast, Dramatic, Painful

See it if The stage set is amazing. The cast interaction was tight and authentic. Painful story of a modern day, female, Job.

Don't see it if Not a light show. Draws on family secrets, race, belief in God.

Critic Reviews (28)

The New York Times
March 28th, 2016

"Ms. Rashad will be hard pressed to ever again top her work here…The script could still use some fine-tuning to make the sucker punch of the second act land with maximum clout. But even as the play stands, you’ll look back and marvel at how Mr. McCraney and this expert production team have set you up. That’s partly the art of Ms. Landau and her top-drawer cast…Ultimately, it’s Ms. Rashad’s deeply felt, expertly shaded Shelah that gives the play its essential emotional continuity."
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Time Out New York
March 28th, 2016

"Tina Landau’s production is beautifully assembled; McCraney’s rich, flavorful dialogue rushes out compellingly from the persuasive cast of eight, and snags just when it should. McCraney is a huge talent, and the play is certainly worth seeing. But the realistic family-reunion half has only a tenuous connection with the outrageous misfortunes later on. Shelah may be Job, but 'Head of Passes' offers no God to explain her calamaties. She’s wrestling with her playwright."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
March 28th, 2016

"A startling but awkward new take on Job…Most of the first act passes busily, and often amusingly…The play becomes more and more abstract...McCraney’s flights of poetry are so fluently rendered by Rashad they seem like plainest prose…Unfortunately, this lyricism does not sit very well with a jokey spikiness...Each mode seems to undermine, not deepen, the other...In trying to humanize the great and mysterious parable, McCraney has set himself a challenge surely no playwright could meet."
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New York Daily News
March 28th, 2016

"An affecting but uneven saga…McCraney’s dialogue is a potent blend of the plainspoken and poetic...The cast and production, especially the shape-shifting set, impress under direction by Tina Landau. But on the downside, 'Head of Passes' doesn’t sidestep cliches. It can also come across as overwrought and windy. Still, Rashad’s gutsy, go-for-it performance is something to believe in."
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The Hollywood Reporter
March 28th, 2016

"The play is unwieldy, its epic, elemental developments springing inorganically from the psychological realism of the setup...However, McCraney's distinctive dialogue ensures that the drama remains absorbing, and Landau directs the strong cast with a keen ear for the musical rhythms of black Louisiana speech...Rashad supplies earthy gravitas throughout...Every character is vividly drawn...It's the flaws of the play, not the performances, that diminish its impact."
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March 28th, 2016

"Landau does her best to fill out McCraney's sketch by crafting believable relationships between the actors…Rashad serves as a life raft, rescuing the central story…Landau orchestrates some truly remarkable stagecraft…Unfortunately, the realistic water-filled craters onstage aren't quite enough to distract from the massive holes in McCraney's story. 'Head of Passes' has the potential to be the next great American play, but the author needs to shore up the basics first."
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Lighting & Sound America
March 29th, 2016

"Rashad commits herself with abandon...But by the final scene 'Head of Passes' has become a bewildering mish-mash of ideas and styles...It seems to be about nothing but giving a grand-manner actress the workout of her career...McCraney hasn't laid the groundwork for this long, loud burst of emotion, so it feels like a series of calculated effects. If he set out to write a powerful drama pitting a dying woman against her God, what he has ended up with is an overwrought star vehicle."
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Talkin' Broadway
March 28th, 2016

"Rashad's immersion within Shelah is riveting, and the rage she wields while waging that battle profoundly chilling in its unvarnished honesty…Her tirade is explosive, harrowing, and cathartic, as only the best theatre can be. Alas, it's only a part of 'Head of Passes,' which otherwise fails to match these stunning heights...Shelah is the sole developed character…But with Rashad at the center of 'Head of Passes,' that part of this unsteady evening is never less than a joy."
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