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a Drama
by Danai Gurira

COMPANY : Synchronicity Performance Group [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Peachtree Playhouse
ID# 5084

SHOWING : June 02, 2017 - June 25, 2017



Danai Gurira’s historic "Eclipsed," the first play to premiere on Broadway with an all-black, female creative team and cast. Caught in the grips of civil war, five Liberian women struggle to negotiate power, protection and peace in this stunning tale of hope and resilience. Nominated for 6 Tony awards including Best Play, "Eclipsed" has been called “(m)iraculous and savagely funny” (Deadline), “rare and powerful” (The New York Times) and “(a) moving, must-see production!” (New York Magazine).

WIfe #2 Isake Akanke
Rita Parris Sarter
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Shining Brighter Than a Supernova
by playgoer
Thursday, June 8, 2017
Danai Gurira’s play "Eclipsed" takes us into the world of a Liberian civil war, focusing on the four wives of a rebel commanding officer. He has only three when the play starts. The first (Shayla Love) is harboring a stray girl (Asha Duniani) and dealing with the materialistic wife #3 (Charity Purvis Jordan). Wife #2 (Isake Akanke) is not seen right away; she has taken up arms and is fighting as a rebel soldier. Parris Sarter, portraying a representative of a peace initiative in search of her missing daughter rounds out the cast.

This is a grim environment, in which the wives (eventually including the girl) are sexual slaves. Although pregnant wife #3 and loyal wife #1 have formed some sort of emotional connection with their "husband," it’s clear by the end that he has no attachment to them. Still, grim though the environment may be, the women find small pleasures as they pass their mostly uneventful days.

The plot revolves around the impressionable girl. She is faced with a number of decisions. Each new argument seems to sway her a bit, but her choices are rarely what the audience is rooting for. Even at the end, when peace seems at hand, we’re left with a final image of her weighing her beloved book and her firearm as symbols of the futures she might choose.

Acting is excellent across the board. Liberian accents are used, which takes a little getting used to, but voices are strong and clear. We care about these characters, but feel as powerless as they do to improve their lot in any meaningful way. Either they embrace their humanity and suffer or close off their heart and become a mindless killing machine. There is no way out that does not include lasting damage.

The physical production is nearly as good as the acting. Kathy A. Perkins’ lighting design and Kay Richardson’s sound design immerse the audience in the atmosphere of war-torn Liberia. Gunshots in sync with actors’ movements and Amelia Fischer’s fight choreography are superb. Elisabeth Cooper’s props reinforce the environment of mingled penury and looted luxuries. Nyrobi Moss’ costumes are bright and varied and suggest an approximation of passing time. Scenic design by Moriah & Isabel Curley-Clay creates an appropriately squalid and bullet-shattered residence for the women, but the carpeting in front of the stage proper doesn’t work particularly well for scenes outside the residence. A pile of sticks on the carpet is a pretty lame way to accommodate a firewood-gathering scene, and the scenes at the start of act two look odd with the unlit residence looming in the background.

Director Tinashe Kajesse-Bolden has pulled together a riveting production that, like the Broadway production, emphasizes a female production team (with males involved only in technical direction and fight direction assistantship). That’s a bit paradoxical, considering that the storyline shows women whose entire world has been defined, directed, and constrained by men. But when the end result is this good, who cares about the gender of the people bringing the production to life? [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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