New York | 1h 25m | Already closed

Pass Over (Lincoln Center)

From 16 critic and 85 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking, Absorbing, Intense

About the show

Lincoln Center presents this provocative mashup of 'Waiting for Godot' and the Exodus saga, which exposes the unquestionable human spirit of young black men who dream about a promised land they've yet to find. More…

In 'Pass Over' Moses and Kitch stand around on the corner - talking smack, passing the time, and hoping that today a miracle will come. The film version of 'Pass Over,' directed by Spike Lee, will premiere at this winter’s Sundance Film Festival. 

1h 25m | Already closed | Claire Tow Theater (Upper W Side)

Front Row Center

“Nwandu is a fearless writer who takes no prisoners. She writes with a laser beam...Nwandu’s skill is supported and enhanced by this ensemble as well as Taymor’s direction...These actors execute their roles both as performers and characters with exquisite precision...The conclusion is a hairpin turn that leads us like a highway pile-up to the exact spot we were avoiding.” Full Review


“A provocative, inflammatory, exquisitely written work — a new masterpiece of modern drama...Provokes the uncomfortable, challenging conversations we need to have as our country grapples with racial bigotry that persists not just in law enforcement but in the very fabric of American culture...Impeccable performances...'Pass Over' urges us to get to the tough business of addressing the racial issues that we're afraid of discussing and then act to end the injustices." Full Review

Stage Left

"The most viscerally unsettling and provocative play I have ever seen on stage...A tragic cycle of race, power, privilege, and oppression rippling across time...Nwandu’s text bristles, snaps, and pops with an authentic street sound, giving voice to these black men, ensuring we see and hear them. It’s powerful and potent stuff...A cry for justice that holds a mirror to the face and shakes the conscience to its core." Full Review

Time Out New York

"An intimate political play that grapples with epic themes and is likely to leave you shaken...Taymor keeps the pace popping, so the moments when everything stops hit hard...She elicits heart-rending performances from Hill and Smallwood...and Ebert is careful that his symbolic characters don’t slip into cliché...Although much of its repartee is quite funny, 'Pass Over' is a tough show. It’s intended to challenge and cause discomfort, and a lot is left to interpretation." Full Review

The Slotkin Letter

"An astonishing, gut-wrenching play, beautifully acted and directed...Taymor has directed this with stunning details. Irony is everywhere in her gripping, vital production...This is one muscular, vital, uncompromising, in-your-face play. Playwright Antoinette Nwandu has written dialogue that sings...Terrific, upsetting, unsettling, smart, angry play." Full Review

The New York Times

"Despite its grim relevance, 'Pass Over' creates a vivid world of injustice while riffing on earlier ones...This is daring dramaturgy, requiring the utmost in tonal control to keep it from tipping into righteous bathos. Danya Taymor’s thrillingly tense LCT3 production mostly succeeds. Technically, it is ideal...Within this prison, Ms. Nwandu has been careful to particularize and humanize her main characters so that the tragedy is not just theoretical or surreal." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“One only has to watch the nightly TV news or read a newspaper to be aware of the plight of young black men in America being persecuted and even killed with alarming regularity by Caucasian policeman. While this unfortunate turn in American society can nonetheless feel far removed for many (especially in Manhattan), playwright Antoinette Nwandu forces us to face this phenomenon head on in ‘Pass Over.’” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"The cast of the one-act play, under Danya Taymor's direction, is uniformly strong...Playwright Antoinette Nwandu is an important new voice who has done an especially fine job of capturing the language of the urban streets and making it quite poetic. More importantly, in Moses and Kitch, she has created truly sympathetic characters who are trapped in what Moses explains is a 'mega-four' for life." Full Review

The Hollywood Reporter

"The work proves a powerfully imaginative drama that will shake up audiences, instantly tagging the playwright as a significant new voice...'Pass Over' is more effective thematically than as drama. The dialogue at times feels aimless and repetitive...The narrative lurches confusingly, and some of the symbolism and its meanings prove elusive. But there's no denying that the work packs a powerful punch, one that's fully realized in this production, superbly staged by Danya Taymor." Full Review

Gotham Playgoer

“A highly theatrical work, ably directed by Danya Taymor...I had to struggle to overcome my discomfort with the language...It’s a rough, uneven, occasionally muddled piece, but its energy is undeniable.” Full Review

The Wrap

"In Nwandu’s script, Mister/Master comes off more than a little ridiculous. He’s ridiculous on stage, too, but he’s also something else. He’s theatrically arresting. Much of this has to do with Ebert’s charm offensive, as ebullient as it is seemingly oblivious — until it isn’t...Nwandu effectively mixes the profane and the sacred, with the Moses character being the most obvious biblical reference." Full Review


"Nwandu draws parallels between histories of persecution and perseverance, all within a freewheeling riff on Samuel Beckett’s 'Waiting for Godot,' sharply directed here by Danya Taymor." Full Review

New York Stage Review

“There’s a lot to unpack in the 90-minute ‘Pass Over’: slavery allusions, biblical overtones—both of which could use more consideration from director Danya Taymor. But you can also boil Nwandu’s drama down to three simple humane words: Stop killing us. It’s an appeal, a demand, and, sadly, a wish.” Full Review

The Clyde Fitch Report

“Invites comparison with other plays but stands on its own...Deftly directed by Danya Taymor, we’re led to laughter, tears and healthy self-reflection...A plot in which nothing happens, and everything happens...Taymor creates a world crackling with theatricality...That your nerves may be jangled from several surprising plot moments may thrill you. If it is not a perfect play that seeks a balance between bawdy and devastating, this playwright’s voice is nevertheless strong and important." Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

“Although Nwandu’s ’Pass Over’ is rife with elegant use of subtle devices like allegory, metaphor, and allusion, it is bold agitprop, not shy about making overt claims and accusations...Taymor captures that mood of justified paranoia effectively...Nwandu’s language is lyrical, and delivered with great skill...The play is an urgent call to action...Heavy-handed, but Nwandu suggests that crisis is no time for a delicate hand.” Full Review

New York Stage Review

“’While the protagonists emerge as potent symbols of enduring injustice, they’re ultimately less compelling as individuals. For all the tenderness, humor and anguish that Hill and Smallwood mine under Taymor’s sensitive, animated direction, we get little sense of what drives their characters beyond pain and oppression...If 'Pass Over' makes a strong and necessary statement, it proves less conducive to starting a conversation.” Full Review

Great acting, Great writing, Great staging, Masterful, Must see

See it if You want to see a brilliant, powerful, timely play that will leave devastated, yet hopeful for the theatre.

Don't see it if You want a light entertainment, or you can't handle a challenge.

Riveting, Masterful, Great acting, Great staging, Relevant

See it if You want to see masterful acting, spectacular writing and staging. The message is profound and clever in it's depiction.

Don't see it if You want a light hearted musical.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Antoinette nwandu is god, Masterful, Intense

See it if You're invested in stories about black men being seen as human. If you want a real show about race in America.

Don't see it if You're going to leave reviews talking about "ghetto talk" that ain't got shit to do with the show.

Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Profound, Relevant

See it if you're open to a poignant, touching view into the lives of young black men, the futility, the hopelessness, the dreams.

Don't see it if you're racist and are unwilling to open your mind to the experiences of disadvantaged groups.

Absorbing, Intelligent, Resonant, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if You like to be challenged by new work, like great writing and acting, are interested in theatre which is relevant to now.

Don't see it if You can't handle plots which traverse timelines, are offended by strong language or want to see something light and carefree and fun.

Great acting, Great writing, Gripping, Resonant, Theatrical

See it if you can! This is what good theater should be. Extraordinarily theatrical, shockingly honest, incredible performances and a LOT to say.

Don't see it if you're looking for a play that will help you pretend that the world's problems don't exist.

Absorbing, Profound, Great singing

See it if you can handle discomfort and want to see perfect beat work by three physically engaged and emotionally honest actors.

Don't see it if you are going to dispute the premise as a way to avoid dealing with all that the play explores.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Must see, Relevant

See it if it's an incredibly gripping story that presents the current lives of young black men in an absurdist fashion à la Waiting for Godot

Don't see it if you can't handle strong language, violence, or are simply someone who is racist

Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Intense, Must see

See it if you care about politics, humanity, America's history of violence toward black men. You want to see how political theatre can work.

Don't see it if you can't bear violence onstage, even with great artistic value.

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Absorbing, Intelligent, Refreshing

See it if You want a clever play, brilliantly acted that's very relevant to our time.

Don't see it if You want a light breezy night at the theatre. You'll leave this play with a lot on your mind.

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Masterful

See it if Incredibly important, well-acted, upsetting & engaging. Brings to mind many other plays & characters. Totally relevant to events of today.

Don't see it if This is a very intense, stressful play to watch. But totally worth it. I'm sure it will stay with me for a long time.

Ambitious, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Implacable, Relevant

See it if you want to see a 21st C 'Waiting for Popo': a fierce, original, provocative indictment of racial injustice & essential to #blacklivesmatter

Don't see it if you prefer to live under a rock or limit yourself to pure escapist entertainment.

Also This is exactly the type of theatre the country needs: unconventional,... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great writing, Profound, Edgy, Intense

See it if You consider yourself a liberal or woke (though I hate that term)...this show has a lesson for you. If you’re a conservative it’s MUST SEE!!

Don't see it if You’re a delicate flower and can’t take a good taste of reality slapped across your face...hard!!!

Mash up of "waiting for godot" and the biblical story of exodus, set on a current ghetto street, w wild surrealistic scenes - wow! best play to emerge from "black lives matter" movement

See it if poetic/hilarious/moving script w strong cast shows why modern blacks in ghetto paralyzed by fear of police

Don't see it if puzzled by absurdist plays or surreal scenes; or upset by continual use Nig**r, stereotype of brutal white cop

Also Some may not get this absurdist play. Others who get it may find it to... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Ambitious, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if You like an absorbing drama about today’s racial issues with no easy answers, evoking Cain and Abel, Of Mice and Men, Little Re Riding Hood.

Don't see it if You can’t deal with racial conflict.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Relevant, Thought-provoking

See it if you enjoy very thought-provoking existential plays about very current and relevant subject matter expertly performed.

Don't see it if you want conventional plot driven theater and you don't want to be challenged and provoked.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Must see, Profound

See it if you want to see a forward thinking, well-written, wonderfully acted look at a very important subject.

Don't see it if loud noises and tension ruin your experience at the theatre.

Ambitious, Taut, Tragic, Acute, Unsettling

See it if you'd like to see a play that powerfully confronts the disproportionate killing of young black men by police in the US.

Don't see it if you'd be uncomfortable experiencing a dramatic handling of the fact that in the US police disproportionately kill young black men.

Also This isn’t a comfortable play. Unflinchingly, but with art & charm, pl... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Great acting, Must see, Thought-provoking, Great writing

See it if You want to see great actors in a play about what many Afro Americans face in this country.

Don't see it if You like light fluffy plays.

Clever, Great acting, Great staging, Great writing, Must see

See it if You want to reflect on the effects of white privileged

Don't see it if You are looking for a light play

Absorbing, Great acting, Edgy, Intense, Woke

See it if You what to see what real theater is supposed to be. Intimate, intense, edgy, confronting you with an issue, making you face truth.

Don't see it if You don't like edgy, very relevant, works that confront the status quo.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent

See it if you'd like to see a solid show that combines Waiting for Godot with Topdog/Underdog.

Don't see it if you have a fragile white ego.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Great staging, Relevant

See it if you enjoy timely plays about provocative issues such as race. Superb acting and direction. Totally aborbing.

Don't see it if you do not enjoy intense evenings in the theatre. This one is provocative and thought provoking.

Clever, Profound, Great acting, Relevant, Devastating

See it if you like Beckett & want your mind blown/broken in ways a traditional Godot can’t achieve & think exploring the racial divide is important

Don't see it if Beckett puts you to sleep; you feel persecuted when the white characters are unflattering; race doesn't interest

Also Mixed feelings. This was SO well done I felt truly hopeless afterward.... Read more Read less

Edgy, Intense, Upsetting, Confusing, Profound

See it if you care about new plays addressing the heart of the American spirit, race relations, and personal responsibility/integrity.

Don't see it if contains extreme and constant profanity and a blazing indictment of White America. Be warned this is not a "comfortable" show.

Also Playbill nailed the tagline: "a mashup of Waiting for Godot and the Ex... Read more Read less

Cast & Creatives (10)