Pass Over by Antoinette Nwandu – review

Kiln Theatre
Review by: Christina McDougall
Published: Friday, 21 February 2020, 7:26pm
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What happens when the colour of your skin forces you to rethink the value of your own life? This protective layer of cells that covers your flesh and bones determines whether your life is valuable or worthless in society.

Set in a concrete jungle in America, close friends Kitch and Moses live the real life American black dream; stricken with poverty, no food to eat, no roof under their head or hope for tomorrow, they truly are stuck in a nightmare.

Set in the round, Moses (Paapa Essiedu) and Kitch (Gershwyn Eustache Jnr) are no longer waiting for a miracle to survive, but instead are awaiting to die. With their community becoming extinct due to police brutality, they long to die by their own hands rather than by the bullet of a racist police officer.

I will be thinking about this play for a long time and urge everyone to watch it. It is funny, painful, honest and necessary”.

Now, if you are sensitive to the ‘N’ word, then you are going to feel a tad uncomfortable as Moses and Kitch say it as many times as I will use a full stop in this review. I personally hate the word and cringe whenever I hear it, but by the end of the play the word became a normality and I slowly became unaware of it. A little bit like how America became unaware of Kitch and Moses. Which makes what I am about to say a little surprising – this is one of the BEST PLAY I HAVE EVER SEEN!!!



Pass Over shines light on how black lives are valued in America. We get a clear image of how petrified people are of the police – a force that is meant to protect and serve are instead abusing their power to belittle, tournament and kill black people. Although I am not American, I have witnessed the mental effect police brutality has had on my close friends. With the news hardly mentioning another black life killed in America, people are frustrated and exhausted at seeing their own community disappear without the justice and press cover they deserve.

From Mike Brown Jnr to Sandra Bland, these are innocent lives that were snatched away by racist trigger-happy police officers and not one has been punished for it. In the last six years, figures show that police officers in America have killed over 4000 people, a quarter of them African American. And closer to home, these same issues are being faced by black people in the UK, with racially biased stop and search policies to overt racist abuse, the maltreatment of black people by the very people who are meant to protect them is clearly a worldwide issue we are facing.

“one of the BEST PLAY I HAVE EVER SEEN!!!”

This issue is masterfully addressed in Pass Over, which unlike other portrayals I’ve seen on this issue does not dance around the theme or try to cast some blame on the black victims. Instead, it shines a direct light on the injustice faced by many and does not provide the audience with a comfortable excuse to brush off the attack. This, along with the excellent acting, was why I loved this play – it was able to deliver a gut-punching message in a surprising and impactful way.

From looking around at the audience, I wasn’t the only person that felt the impact of the play. At the start of the play, the predominantly white audience looked visibly uncomfortable – like me this was in part due to the excessive use of the “N” word, but also because of the difficult topic being tackled. However, the brilliant performances and excellent script quickly captured the audience, who by the end were audibly gasping and weeping! I heard a lady in the bathrooms telling her friend that she found the play so powerful and needed a couple of minutes to take it in. I later heard a number of other people commenting on not realising how awful this issue was.

Pass Over cleverly takes the biblical story of Moses and his never-ending battle with Pharaoh to free the Israelites from brutal slavery into modern life situations. Just like Moses in the bible, Kitch and Moses are tired of how their people are treated and desperately want to enter the promise land. The play often links these two stories together to unravel the ultimate finale at the end.

Watching this play made me realise how important theatre is. This play gave a voice to thousands of voiceless people who have suffered by those in authority. This play had some of the best acting I have seen on stage. Actor Alexander Eliot plays a police officer and a lost wonderer. Both his characters use their power and white privileges to break Kitch and Moses down in subtle yet extremely obvious ways. His character was so well developed and his final monologue brought me to tears.

Pass Over was able to deliver a gut-punching message in a surprising and impactful way”.

Kitch and Moses were outstanding! They were young men with a childlike imagination but an old man’s heart. They were robbed of happiness and pushed around by the vicious system. They were paralyzed by the sirens and crippled by the badge. They were worthless to America and were forced to give up their dream all because of the colour of their skin.

I will be thinking about this play for a long time and urge everyone to watch it. It is funny, painful, honest and necessary. It made me weep and smile and I am certain it will change a lot of thoughts.

NEED TO KNOW: Pass Over is at the Kiln Theatre until 21 March 2020 | See listing | BOOK TICKETS