ECLIPSED on Broadway
by Cameron Boyle
ECLIPSED is a view into a reality of African history that has largely been eclipsed in Western media. This year's film BEASTS OF NO NATION was a groundbreaking portrayal of the abuses and violence of civil war, but it was delivered through a male lens and male actors. ECLIPSED is a story by, about and starring BLACK African women---even more eclipsed than the subject matter itself in American pop culture.
I sat (just in front of Angela Bassett!) mesmerized by the authenticity of the story, the acting and the language of the play. It was the second night in previews before the March 6 opening, and it seemed these women were born to be in relationship with one another. Eclipsed, written by playwright Danai Gurira and starring Lupita Nyong’o, is a harrowing, heartbreaking, and humorous story of four captive “wives” of a rebel officer during the Liberian civil war. It is directed by Liesl Tommy and costars Saycon Sengbloh, Pascale Armand, Akosua Busia, and Zainab Jah. Mostly it is about the power of trust and sisterhood. Cue ululating here! I felt every emotion in response to the various realities of each character. Where I laughed most was when Lupita's character kept reading to the other wives from a big hardcover biography of President Clinton. Their banter about Monica Lewinsky being "Wife #2" was hilarious. Their polygamous perspective rendered ludicrous the idea of an authority figure "getting in trouble" for having multiple "wives". And my heart was ripped out when Lupita's character, in the last scene of the play, freezes onstage with a machine gun in one hand and the Clinton biography in the other, unsure which is the most secure weapon to secure her future---the power of violence or the power of education. Thank you Danai Gurira for telling this story and for bringing the beauty and humanity of African women into the light!