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Review: Pass Over, at Kiln Theatre

05 March, 2020 — By Howard Loxton

Gershwyn Eustache Jnr and Paapa Essiedu in Pass Over. Photo: Marc Brenner

A YOUNG African-American is killing time on a street corner, but he’s not your stereotypical drug dealer.

When a bundle of clothes on the pavement stirs and the two men change places they could be rough sleepers taking turns guarding each other, but this isn’t slice-of-life realism.

Antoinette Nwandu has called her play “a mash up of the biblical Exodus story and Waiting for Godot in a modern urban setting”. Robert Jones’s set has a flickering lamppost that stands in for Beckett’s lone tree.

Paapa Essiedu’s Moses and Gershwyn Eustache Jnr’s Kitch imagine what they will have in the Promised Land of the American Dream.

They even think of suicide as a way of passing over more quickly. Speech patterns and accents take some getting used but these are magnificent performances with a gripping physicality that conveys their feelings.

Mister, a white man, appears (Alexander Eliot). He’s lost, on his way to his mother’s with a basket of goodies that he decides to share with them. Is he being generous or defensive? It’s ironic how he avoids the N-word which the others banter between them, but the gun-wielding cop who arrives next makes things far from funny. He too is played by Eliot, making its own point.

It is a continuous cycle. If they get through the night, when the sun comes up it will all start again. Moses has already lost a brother.

Who will be next?

This poetic play, like Godot, may baffle some, but Indhu Rubasingham’s production make its message clear: Black Lives Matter!

Until March 21
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