ECLIPSED is a five character play about the concubines of a warlord in Liberia. Concubines is a euphemism; they are sex slaves. This is a political play about how women protect themselves when in dire circumstances.
This is a challenging review for me to write. I am aware that this production has glowing reviews from multiple sources, but no matter how I look at it: this is only a tolerable play with minimal structure and a deus ex machina to tie up the story. The characters are well drawn, but the dialogue is repetitive and needlessly wordy in the first Act and while the second Act is more lively, it is didactic and preachy. Are we really so shocked that women will do whatever it takes to survive?
Am I too privileged to properly enjoy this play? Then the audience is also. Am I not empathetic to the cause? I cannot fathom how you can write a play about this kind of inhuman treatment of people and not elicit a flood of tears from the audience, yet it doesn’t.
The cast is all excellent, Lupita Nyong’o gets to show her awesome range. The direction does nothing to help the script through rough patches, but does service the play when it is moving along. Ultimately, my real problem is with the writing. This is an “issue” play that allows the audience to come in fed and leave satisfied that they have seen an important play without having to feel uncomfortable.