Friday, June 10, 2016

Eclipsed ****

It’s hard to imagine that the same playwright Danai Gurira wrote both “Familiar” and “Eclipsed.” The former play was an enjoyable comedy of manners with African undercurrents. “Eclipsed “ is a devastating drama about the lives of four Liberian women living in a rebel compound as “wives” of the general. Gurira vividly differentiates her characters and captures their blend of cooperation and competition. Wife #1 (Saycon Sengbloh) was captured as a teenager and has come to accept her life. Wife #3 (Pascale Armand), several years younger, is flighty and pregnant. They unsuccessfully attempt to hide The Girl (Lupita Nyong’o), a teenager who has fled to the compound, to prevent her from becoming Wife #4. It turns out that Wife #2 (Zainab Jah) has become a hardened rebel soldier; armed with a rifle, she will be no man’s victim. Wife #1 is too proud and scornful to accept her assistance when she periodically returns to the compound. Rita (Akosua Busia), part of a visiting delegation of city women trying to end the civil war, takes an interest in the wives. She tries to get them to use their given names so they can reconnect with their past and see a future. Wife #2 recruits The Girl as a soldier. An uncertain future awaits at war’s end. The ensemble acting is exceptional with Nyong’o a standout. Except for a few slow moments in the first act, the play is consistently gripping. The set and costumes by Clint Ramos are evocative. Liesl Tommy’s direction is assured. Running time: 2 1/2 hours including intermission.

No comments: