Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed is a powerful declaration of hope | Theater Review | Chicago Reader

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Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed is a powerful declaration of hope

Four women band together to survive the Libyan civil war.


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Though Danai Gurira may be best known for her performances in The Walking Dead, Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War, in Eclipsed, presented by Pegasus Theatre, she proves that her talents extend beyond acting to playwriting. The first play to premiere on Broadway with an all-black and female cast and creative team, Eclipsed follows the lives of four women forced into servitude as the "wives" of a commanding officer at the end of the Liberian civil war in 2003.

Maya V. Prentiss, Aja Singletary, Sola Thompson and Adhana Reid are all electrifying as the four young wives, each processing trauma in her own distinct way. Despite living a waking nightmare, this family of necessity finds unexpected joy and purpose as they struggle to persevere. Prentiss plays Helena, the heartbreakingly young eldest Wife Number One, with a lovely vulnerability, desperately establishing a sense of order for the others and herself. Thompson shows extraordinary range as the youngest and newest Wife Number Four, tumbling headfirst into a life beyond comprehension, wrestling with unimaginably heart-wrenching choices. Singletary delights as the hilarious Bessie, Wife Number Three, who brings unexpected levity to their circumstances. And Reid gives a powerful performance as Maima, Wife Number Two, determined to fight back against her persecution at any cost.

War is tyranny, and the desperation for self-preservation brings terrible, unintended consequences. Shortly after the war ended, women in Liberia adopted the Golden Tulip Declaration, mandating that women participate in all governmental structures. Eclipsed is similarly a powerful declaration of hope.   v

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