Eclipsed

From 09/17/2010 to 10/10/2010

Synopsis

ECLIPSED centers on the lives of five women who are thrown together by the recent civil war in Liberia. Salvaged as chattel from wartime looting, these “wives” of the commanding officer form a hardscrabble alliance and develop their own a hierarchy as they confront questions of survival within their compound. Surprisingly vivacious and often funnier than you would expect, Eclipsed raises thought-provoking questions about power and resistance, solidarity and complicity, as the women hold out for the hope of a brighter destiny.

The reviews are in.

BEST OF 2010–Eclipsed, Frank Theatre: Frank Theatre brought home the tragedies of the long-running Liberian Civil War in this searing work by Danai Gurira, but it was the performances that elevated the show to one of the year’s very best in the Twin Cities. In a guerrilla camp, several “wives”—women essentially enslaved to the camp’s leader—try to carve out some kind of life for themselves amid the horrifying daily struggle for survival. The most surprising part of the production was that the script, the five-woman cast, and director Wendy Knox were able to find humanity and even humor amid the horrors.” –Ed Huyck, Best of 2010, City Pages

“Frank Theatre’s production, directed by Wendy Knox, adeptly conveys the nuanced nature of Gurira’s play. The balanced, solid ensemble of actors expresses the women’s various responses to the horror of their world, from the violent rage of Number Two (Nisreen Dawan) to the resolute hopefulness of the Peace Lady (Signe Harriday), with insight, humor and compassion. This award-winning play raises more questions than it answers as it challenges audiences to ponder the devastating, and often unexpected, effects war has on its victims. Frank Theatre’s area premiere of this riveting piece of work more than does it justice.” –Lisa Brock, StarTribune

“Eclipsed, the 2009 play by Obie Award-winning playwright Danai Gurira tells the story of an unlikely sisterhood of five women in civil war-torn Liberia. In Frank Artistic Director Wendy Knox’s hands, the production is intense, but never heavy-handed. A strong, well-matched cast brings to life the play’s humanity and occasional comedy, which make themes of loss of identity amidst the horrors of war less emotionally-draining than you might expect without lessening the power of its message.

“Frank favorite Shá Cage brings dignity and depth to the role of Helena, who we come to know in the play as Number One. Like the other female characters she is referred to by her rank in the pecking order of concubines (euphemistically, “wives”) of “the CO”, a warload in Liberia’s most recent civil war. Hope Cervantes is Bessie (Number Two), a wannabe Diana Ross-lookalike always on the look out for fancy clothes and a new wig.  Yeukai Mudzi plays “The Girl” (aka Number Four), the most recent addition to the CO’s harem, with a perfect combination of naïveté and strength.

“Nisreen Dawan is Maima, (once known as Number Two in the compound), now a tough, rifle-toting soldier with a penchant for designer clothes made in America (we see her first in a Tommy Girl shirt).  The cast is rounded out by Signe Harriday as Rita, a peacemaker who has come to help put the lives of the country’s women back together, though she herself has lost everything. Michael Croswell’s set gives us a multi-functional indoor/outdoor room at the CO’s compound where the women sleep on the floor in squalor. Other scenes take place just outside and on the front line of the war where Maima teaches Number Four – after she recruits her as a freedom fighter – how to use her rifle and “fire” (or kill) the enemy.

“There are many reasons to see this play. It is perhaps one of Frank’s most thought-provoking productions of the past couple years, and if nothing else, it’ll give you a good excuse to brush up on your Liberian history, something Americans in particular might benefit from given the country’s political origins. Bit don’t let the contemporary political framework keep you away.  Eclipsed is melded to its subject matter in such a way that the themes are relevant and universal even as it tells an important story of a specific war.”  –David DeYoung, howastheshow.com

“There’s an engrossing scene in the middle of Danai Gurira’s play “Eclipsed,” which takes place in the desperate morass of blood and brutality that was Liberia’s civil war of earlier this decade. On one side of the stage, a woman is learning how to write her name. On the other, a teenage girl is being taught how to shoot a semi-automatic rifle. The implication is clear: These women can try to shoot their way out of this mess or read and write their way out.

“It’s just one of many electrifying moments in a powerful production from Frank Theatre. Written by a Macalester College graduate who traveled to Liberia to chronicle women’s wartime experiences, “Eclipsed” is a painfully realistic, gripping play about how five characters choose to deal with man’s inhumanity to woman. Under the skilled direction of Wendy Knox, it becomes a deeply involving experience.” –Rob Hubbard, Pioneer Press