Eclipsed, Danai Gurira’s new play at The Public theater is a quadruple threat. Written by a woman, it’s about women, performed by women and directed by a woman– and that’s not all that’s threatening. This play, about the time near the end of the Second Liberian Civil War when dissidents rose up to try to overthrow the dictator Charles Taylor using children soldiers, ritualistic killing and cannibalism.
Yes, Lupita Nyong’o is in the play and people are coming out in droves to see her, but she is not a movie star in this production — just Wife #4 and a member of the stellar ensemble cast. The story is both heartbreaking and funny. It’s about the choices all women must make and specifically the choices Wife #4 faces. Does she remain in the camp after continually being raped by the commanding officer until he finds a fifth wife, does she join the rebels in their fight for freedom, or should she join the Liberian women who believe in a peace process to achieve freedom?
There’s much violence, but luckily it happens off-stage. Instead we hear the beauty, poetry and rhythm of the African language and see the colorful dress which is in stark contrast to the reality that surrounds these wives.These women have formed a sisterhood which is palpable – and thankfully there’s plenty of comic relief. This is a powerful play and although the ending feels a bit contrived and lacks a certain finality, that may be merely a reflection of the uncertainty felt by the women who after peace is achieved are afraid of the uncertainty that lies in front of them. LAR
The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street
Ticket prices: $90
Discounted tickets: available for members
Running time: 2 hours 15 minutes, with one intermission
Runs thru: November 29, 2015