For a play with just four characters and a single, sparsely furnished set, Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu’s “Pass Over” feels almost momentous — even historic. This is in part due to the timing of its arrival on Broadway, as the first new production to open after the unprecedented 16-month closing of the theaters due to the pandemic.
But it has more to do with the nature of this powerful and profoundly meaningful play, which presents, through a brilliant combination of surrealism and naturalism, a stylized portrait of Black lives in 21st century America, or at least of two archetypal members of the Black underclass. In holding up a dark funhouse mirror to the brutal extremes of Black life, Nwandu’s play transcends its theatrical form to become a poetic meditation that almost defies classification. It’s not so much a play as an experience, and a Broadway landmark of a unique kind.