Over the last ten years or so, theater ( and movie) audiences have viewed many stories that deal with the Liberian Civil War. Many of these stories deal with the horror of what transpired , the crimes committed, the killing and looting and of course the rape and terror experienced by those involved. We , as theater audiences, have experienced many plays dealing with topics dealing with human rights, not just in Liberia, but back in time, the Holocaust, the Rwandan Genocide and even some of the recent terror in the Middle East. In many cases, the women were used and abused but in the new production at Northlight Theatre, a marvelous piece by Danai Gurira that allows us to see women who form a family with their captor, taking care of each other, forming a small inner community. Directed by Hallie Gordon, who has put together a dynamic cast of five women to bring this story to life. These women are captives and at the disposal of their captor, but unlike other similar “compounds”, they take care of their captor and each other.
Wife number one, Helena ( the amazing Alana Arenas) takes care of the others and the meals. Wife number two ( a startlingly powerful performance by Tamberla Perry) has become a warrior for her captor, going out to seize property and new young girls for her captor. Wife three is giddy and pregnant ( deftly handled by Leslie Ann Sheppard) and the new girl in town, the girl ( the lovely Paige Collins, who brings a certain innocence to this role but as the story progresses, becomes more hardened to the world she has become a part of). Each of these women has a function in the life of their captor and we get to see each of them learn to adapt and adjust to what they were faced with. The last woman in the story, Rita ( Penelope Walker) was a business owner who is seeking to find her daughter among the camps.
This is a strong story about the will and strength of each of these “survivors” and how they have learned to cope and deal with what has and is happening. Wife number two enjoys the special perks associated with being a “warrior” instead of a servant, and yet, she does the bidding of her captor; and when the play ends, it appears to be “over” and they are free to go. At this point, each has choices to make, either alone or together.We are far from situations such as this, but are well aware that these are in fact truths, so watching and listening to Ms Gurira’s, words as presented by Ms Gordon, we have an eye opening theatrical experience. To add to the overall production, the set by by Jack Magaw, the lighting by Charles Cooper and the extraordinary simple costumes that make it all appear real by Myron Elliott,Jr. truly make it a worthwhile experience. Northight pays very close attention to details so let’s mention the dialect coaches Artemus Gaye and Cindy Gold who made sure that these women were perfect ( and audible).
“Eclipsed” will continue at Northlight Theatre located at 9501 Skokie Blvd. ( just South of Golf Rd) in Skokie through February 20th with performances:
Wednesdays at 1 and 7:30 p.m. ( except 2/2),Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.,Fridays at 8 p.m.,Saturdays at 2:30 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 and 7 p.m. ( except 1/30 and 2/20 for the evening ) Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m. on1/27 and 2/15)
Tickets range from $30-$50 and are available at the box office, by phone at 847-673-6300 or online at www.northlight.org
Students ( with ID) can purchase one ticket only (each) at $10.