Liberia’s War-Torn Past Brought to Life in “Eclipsed”

Raw and powerful, Danai Gurira’s “Eclipsed” is a show that will inform audience members.

The play recounts the atrocities of the final months of the war in Liberia from a distinctly feminine perspective. Unfortunately, the brutality is much too fraught for children.

Telling the story of the multiple “wives” of one of the rebel army’s powerful commanders, the show vividly illustrates that women had very few choices during the 24- year history of the war, which finally ended in 2004. They could either serve as housekeeper-consorts of the violent warlords or take up arms themselves and behave as brutally as the men. It is apparent from the bewildered gaze of the youngest bride (a trembling, vibrantly powerful Paige Collins) that neither was a valid option and that heartbreaking reality tugs at every audience member’s conscience by the final fade-out.

Simply and effectively directed by Hallie Gordon, “Eclipsed” also benefits from Jack Magaw’s natural, elemental set design. This show belongs to its actresses, though, and Collins along with the lovable Alana Arenas, the sassy Leslie Ann Shepard, the fiery Tamberia Perry and the heart-stung Penelope Walker all compel with grace and passion.

“Eclipsed” is a two-hour show with one intermission. It runs through February 20 at Northlight Theatre. To buy tickets, $30-$50 ($10 for young adults), call the box office at 847-673-6300 or visit northlight.org.