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Monday, May 30, 2016

Eclipsed - A Theater Review

I really enjoyed seeing Eclipsed, it was an excellent play. The play was about five women surviving during the Liberian civil war under Charles Taylor's dictatorship, and how their lives were affected as victims, whether they were concubines, soldiers, or attempting to save women's lives. The first act had a lot of humorous moments within the "wives" in their home, while the second act got much heavier and tougher to watch.

Lupita Nyong'o was the billed star, and she was excellent, especially in tracking the emotional journey from a naive young girl forced into sex slavery to being manipulated into becoming a soldier to be "free," and facing PTSD and mental conflicts.

I was also amazed by Pascale Armand as Wife #3, as she was both naturally funny as the comic relief (especially in running gags of her wigs scaring the other women), and deeply emotional as a woman forced to carry to birth a child of rape. And Saycon Sengbloh was stunning as Wife #1, the "mother" of the group, maintaining hierarchy, and feeling as if there is no life for her without war, because she has been a sex slave for many years, and she cannot imagine life after it. All of them received Tony nominations, so it will be fun to see if any of them wins (if Nyong'o wins, she will be halfway there to being in EGOT territory).

It was tough in scenes where the women, due to trauma, could not remember their parents or their birth names, just accepting their new roles as methods of survival.

I wasn't as interested in a character who was a former sex slave turned soldier, because the actress's performance didn't show much complexity, even in a scene where she has an emotional breakdown. And I had sympathy for the woman trying to save the other women, though I found her to be preachy and patronizing to women she treated as victims.

Danai Gurira wrote a truly stunning play, and I am glad this made it to Broadway. Plus, since the cheap mezzanine section I was in wasn't very full, I got to move down to the front of the mezzanine and be closer to seeing the show, so that was sweet.

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