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The Theatreguide.London Review

Gate Theatre   Spring 2015

The captive 'wives' of a rebel Liberian warlord pass the time between being called to service him by feuding, grumbling, reminding themselves of their relative rank and convincing themselves that they're relatively well off since they're his exclusive property and don't have to service the other men. 

Though it is clear that Danal Gurira's play is written in anger and outrage, it actually finds some room for warm comedy within the horror, as when they come upon a book that the one literate woman can read to the others. 

It's a biography of US President Bill Clinton, and the women struggle amusingly to translate American politics and scandal into terms they can comprehend. 

Release from captivity and degradation suddenly appears from two contrasting sources, as a former 'wife' who became a soldier promises empowerment and a female peace envoy offers escape and education. 

But a couple of the women have been captive so long they've forgotten their previous lives and even their names, so there is real question whether they're capable of even imagining an alternative life. And what if peace ever comes? 

As sometimes happens with issue-driven plays, Eclipsed is stronger in outrage than dramaturgy, with the characters too often reduced to archetypes, plot devices or mouthpieces for the author. But the outrage is strong, and carries the evening over most of its weaker moments. 

Caroline Byrne's direction and the acting of the all-female cast are also powerful, going far to round out and individualise characterisations that are barely sketched in in the writing. 

Eclipsed will disturb and occasionally amuse you, as it intends, with much of its power in the subject matter itself and the excellent production.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review - Eclipsed - Gate Theatre 2015

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