Pass Over Me (Covid Monologues Vol 3)
Elysium Theatre Company
It is generally agreed one of the few benefits of lockdown was the chance to celebrate Christmas without the stress and strain of inviting family and friends. Miri (Rachel Gaffin) does not agree. Being Jewish, she does not celebrate Christmas but regards Passover as an equivalent and, as she prepares the Seder meal and imbibes a fair bit of wine, bitterness and anger at the impositions endured during lockdown creep out.
It is credible Miri would take such an attitude as Rachel Creeger’s script makes clear family means a great deal to her so isolation is hard to endure. Although she is supposed to be guiding the audience through the preparation and significance of the Seder meal, she constantly digresses with snippets about her family. Her brother, who used to show off eating the bitterest of the ingredients, is now an anti-vaxxer, "still swallowing anything" sighs Miri.
Although Pass Over Me Is a gentle monologue, it is not without dark moments. Miri’s religion is significant; stuck in lockdown, she cannot help but recall past times when the Jews have had to adjust to a ‘new normal’ or reassured themselves "It couldn’t happen here".
Director Jake Murray sets a mood of restrained hysteria. The setting is warm and welcoming—a busy, well-used and somewhat messy kitchen—but Miri’s mood is rapidly turning from being able to see the funny side of a ridiculous situation to deep anger.
Rachel Gaffin’s performance is close to observational stand-up comedy with excellent timing. It is worrying that, if someone like Miri, centred on her family and generally laid-back, expresses such outrage, there is the possibility of other people feeling pushed to extreme actions.
Pass Over Me demonstrates how national resilience was tested during the COVID pandemic and is a worrying indication the anger experienced by the community may not have dissipated.
Reviewer: David Cunningham