Pass Over Reviews
Chicago Tribune- Recommended
"...Much of the language in the work is thrilling, poetical. Very. So is much of director Danya Taymor's dynamic staging, which makes exceptional use of the width of the Steppenwolf Upstairs Theatre, sending genuinely disturbing attacks on the psyche across horizontal lines before packing a climactic punch in the vertical. All three of the performances are excellent, a complex trifecta of race, power and authority. To her great credit, Taymor really takes you there, whether or not you care to go."
Chicago Sun Times- Somewhat Recommended
"...That said, Hill and Parker are such sublime actors - possessed of wonderful physical grace and finely honed tragicomic instincts - that watching them bicker, tease, wrestle, put on Masterpiece Theatre-like British airs, and above all, dream of making it to the "Promised Land" (just as in the Bible story they learned as kids in Sunday school) is like a master class in dramatic interplay. (Parker is particularly charismatic - an actor who can make you hear his brain humming.) And Nwandu has written terrific, alternately playful and heartbreaking dialogue for them - all the more reason to regret her choice of ending."
Daily Herald- Highly Recommended
"...Fear. Disappointment. Anger. Those emotions animate Moses and Kitch (superbly played by Waukegan native Jon Michael Hill and Julian Parker), the central characters in "Pass Over." A contemporary riff on Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot," Nwandu's fiercely poetic play also incorporates the Exodus story of Moses leading the Israelites from Egypt."
Chicago Reader- Recommended
"...Though, as the play's title suggests, the more appropriate religious reference is Old Testament rather than New. Before she's done, Nwandu's absurdist pastiche has mutated into a latter-day reenactment of the exodus-from-Egypt story, and from there into pure protest: guerrilla-theater reductive (there are no exceptions made for "good" whites), but also guerrilla-theater powerful. Nwandu has written a true heart's cry of a play about what she's not alone in seeing as a deadly, racist national campaign against all our Moseses and Kitches."
Time Out Chicago- Highly Recommended
"...Like Godot's Didi and Gogo, Kitch and Moses play silly language games to pass the time until change arrives. And also like Beckett's characters, they receive visitors: a starkly out-of-place white man with a picnic basket full of food, a combination Red Riding Hood and Big Bad Wolf; and an unfriendly neighborhood police officer whose patrol seems timed to shut down Moses and Kitch's most hopeful moments. (Both are played with oily finesse by Ryan Hallahan)."
Chicago On the Aisle- Somewhat Recommended
"...What troubled me about "Pass Over," an ambitious and passionately executed project by a clearly talented writer, was not its politics, but a dramatic fabric stretched thin. Nwandu, in her mid-thirties, possesses a distinctive voice and a ready flair for the emotional rhythm as well as rhetorical pulse of the language of her subjects."
Stage and Cinema- Recommended
"...The three performances are true enough to make us unintended eavesdroppers, the script as angry as it's eloquent with street slang and gallows humor. A cynic could argue that, even as it voices the dreams of the seeming defeated, Pass Over caters to white-liberal guilt and big-city paranoia. No question: Uncompromising, in-your-face, and pulling no punches, Nwandu's agitprop shocker will find its fullest form in the post-show discussions (whether on stage or off) that increasingly play a crucial part in the Steppenwolf experience."
Splash Magazine- Recommended
"...As new plays go, Pass Over is in really good shape overall. It has a reason to exist, an important message to tell, it has a strong viewpoint, the stakes are high, there's a mix of humor and seriousness, the characters are interesting and full of humanity, and the show itself provokes some important discussions. Even better, Nwandu's play is only 80 minutes long (unheard of for new works)."
Around The Town Chicago- Recommended
"...This is a different angle on a classic play, "Waiting For Godot" as seen through the eyes of playwright Antoinette Nwandu. When one walks into the "upstairs" black box at Steppenwolf, one sees two African-American men on a sort of bare stage. There is only a street lamp, a broken bathroom sink (on the floor), a deflated basketball, a metal pail and a metal container. The men are Kitch (a very powerful performance by Julian Parker) and Moses (deftly handled by Jon Michael Hill). They are street-guys, homeless stuck in a vicious circle of life. They have nothing and nowhere to go. Their lives are day-to-day and their dream is to "Pass Over" to the other side, although until midway through the script, they are not sure of what the "other side" might be."
NewCity Chicago- Highly Recommended
"...Parker's debut on Steppenwolf's stage is explosive. Every micro-movement of his limbs, his facial expressions feels deliberate and nuanced. He is a delight to watch. The way in which he uses his space, his height and emotion through physical display is artful. His dynamic with Hill, from their encounters with one another to how they interact with Mister and the policeman (both played expertly by Ryan Hallahan), to the parable-like fantasy they lead the audience into, is palpable in tenderness and always in sync."
Chicago Theatre Review- Recommended
"...In this world premiere, Ray Nardelli’s preshow music initially lulls theatergoers into a false sense of optimism. We hear lush ballads and uptempo ditties by Rodgers & Hammerstein that ironically put the audience in a cheerful mood. However, all that soon fades away as Antoinette Nwandu’s gritty, nightmare of a drama unfolds and we find ourselves, not in the idealized universe of musical comedy, but in the harsh reality of the today’s violent world. There are no answers offered, only plenty of questions. But one thing is certain: this up-and-coming playwright’s new drama is sure to spark many heated, post-production discussions."
The Fourth Walsh- Highly Recommended
"...Under the masterful direction of Danya Taymor, Hill, Parker, and Ryan Hallahan (Mister/Ossiferthe) are extraordinary. Hallahan plays multiple white characters. His presence, even when he is sharing a picnic lunch, is disturbing. The rhythm of their interactions is sometimes playful, sometimes dire, always authentic. Hill and Parker are the focal point. They navigate us through their 'wild west' reality. Their banter is often interrupted by gunfire. They respond to the intrusion by quickly dropping to the ground. In between shots fired, the men unravel their grim past and future prospects. Their relationship endears as war buddies in the trenches. Their tireless performances are amazing."
Third Coast Review- Recommended
"...The Steppenwolf production of Pass Over did an excellent job of portraying Anywhere, U.S.A. This wasn't a play about Chicago. Instead, it's a play about the black urban poor all over America, including Chicago. We live in a city with a theatrical community that tackles current issues, opening a space for meaningful conversation. I walked out of Steppenwolf thinking about how we as a society empower and how we oppress, what role government plays in this, and what free and equal opportunity really looks like."
Picture This Post- Highly Recommended
"...If you want a light night out and escapist fare this is not your show. If you like to see theater that will pierce you, rock you, and demand your continuing attention and consideration long after the curtain falls, this is your show."