A harrowing story will make its debut on Broadway this spring. The new play Eclipsed, written by playwright and The Walking Dead actress Danai Gurira, made its off-Broadway debut at the Public Theater this past fall and is opening on Broadway in March.
The all female cast stars, Oscar-Winner Lupita Nyong’o, Pascale Armand, Akosua Busia, Zainab Jah and Saycon Sengbloh. This is the first time that the cast, director (Liesl Tommy), and playwright (Danai Gurira) are all female artists, a historic ensemble in the making.
The play takes place almost a decade ago during a revolutionary war in Liberia. The play explores the defeated world of five women who have been captured and taken as “wives” of the rebel commanding officer. Throughout the play we learn about the roles these women play in the community they’ve created for themselves. The playwright inputs questions of maturity and integrity through the everyday interactions these women live out.
Each woman has her given rank among the “wives.” Lupita Nyong’o, a 15-year-old girl, is hidden under a bathtub to avoid what would happen to her if she were found by the commanding officer. Lupita’s performance takes a distressing turn when she wanders out of her hiding place and is raped by the commanding officer, thus making her “wife number 4.”
The women cackle, bicker, and do what they can to maintain a steady level of peace throughout the time they are subject to the commanding officer’’s wrath. Danai Gurira, with much tact and knowledge, powerfully shows us the psychology behind the every day lives of the wives. Everything in this play speaks to the audience; the powerful performance of the ensemble cast, the irresistible writing, and how these women support each other. The audience can gain insight and empathy into times of war and the harrowing side of sexual abuse.
Despite the dark themes and nature of this play, there’s a strong amount of humor excellently and delicately placed in the dialogue. The ensemble’s unflinching honesty and humor captivates and enthralls. Still, the playwright reminds us that this is war and life afterwards is never easy. With the wives’ maturity tested and redefined throughout the second act, Danai Gurira excellently uses “The Girl” (Lupita Nyong’o) as the final blow, showing us the ravages of captivity and warfare.
Stepping into this world will be an irreversible experience, one that will inspire change. Not only is this historic all-women of color production, but also a story of support and trust. Eclipsed opens March 6t, 2016 at the Golden Theater in New York City.
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