‘Eclipsed’ @ The Gate Theatre

- 16th May 2015

 

‘God will keep my conscious until the war is over’

It is 2003 and Liberia is at war. The fates of five women are tied together as they each try to survive the brutalities of living in a rebel army base. Eclipsed at the Gate Theatre Notting Hill, presents a personal glimpse into the lives of the nameless casualties of war. Written by award-winning playwright and actress, Danai Gurira (Walking Dead) and directed by The Gate’s Associate Director, Caroline Byrne, Eclipsed is featured as part of the Freedom Burning Season and will be available to see until the 16th May.

Surrounded three ways by seating, the stage is located in the middle of the room, adding to the sometimes very confrontational element of the production. So entwined is the set and the stage that viewers can feel as if they are intruders – a dormant fly-on-the-wall; capable of influencing little and only able to watch as the events unfold.

 

To begin the play offers few explanations, opening to two women who are hiding a young girl under a large basin before getting on with their ordinary tasks. Meanwhile, there is an unmistakable tension that lingers around the room. The set appears to be a village kitchen, open and hard, and built entirely from cement. The women sleep on the raised cement and wear tattered clothing. The three characters, who we now know are ‘sister-wives’ are named in order of their arrival (One, Three and Four), they keep the audience entertained with their amusing conversation until the tension dismantles. It is at this point of ease that the harsh lights enters the space once more and Number One (Michelle Asante) walks towards it, returning some time later. The element of mystery wears away as the plot moves on and reveals the truth of their circumstances. It is a sad discovery and though the comic relief supplied by Number Three, played by Joan Iyiola (The Rise and Shine of Comrade Fiasco), is uplifting to the point of charming, it does not suffice as enough to shroud the very real terror that these women face on a hourly basis.

 

Beautiful, painful and utterly haunting Eclipsed is an experience that must be had.

Showing until May 16 at The Gate Theatre Notting Hill