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“Eclipsed,” Danai Gurira’s 2009 play about how a group of African women struggled to survive the Second Liberian Civil War, just moved from the Yale Repertory Theater to the Public Theater. It has reached New York largely—perhaps entirely—because of the fortuitous addition to the cast of Lupita Nyong’o, lately and famously of “12 Years a Slave.” Whatever the reason, you must not miss it.
To be sure, “Eclipsed” is oddly undramatic. Indeed, it feels less like a play than a fictionalized documentary—but one of genius, a deceptively bald piece of storytelling in which the everyday details of life during wartime are charged with overwhelming emotional import. At its heart are three “wives” (Saycon Sengbloh, Pascale Armand and Ms. Nyong’o) of a never-seen warlord who live in a bullet-pocked hut near the front lines, huddled together in the hope of escaping the insensate violence of a world made by hate-driven madmen…
Broadway has itself a surefire hit: “The Gin Game,” D.L. Coburn’s Pulitzer-winning two-character “tragi-comedy” (his word) about nursing-home life, is now being revived on Broadway for the second time, with James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson playing the roles created in 1977 by Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy….
Unfortunately, Leonard Foglia, the director, seems not to understand that there’s more to “The Gin Game” than jokes. Mr. Cronyn, who had the signal advantage of being directed by Mike Nichols, crackled with the touch-me-not rage of a once-independent man who now lives on welfare and plays cards all day in a crumbling old-age home. When he said “I guess we just lived too long” to Ms. Tandy, you knew he wasn’t kidding. When Mr. Jones says it, you want to hug him and go “Aaaww.”…
Oren Safdie, whose “Private Jokes, Public Places,” a coruscatingly witty play of ideas about starchitecture, was one of the highlights of 2003, is back in town. This time his target, though just as contemporary, is of potentially wider interest: “Unseamly” is a three-hander about a sexual-harassment case in which the harasser bears a distinct resemblance to Dov Charney, the ex-CEO of American Apparel, who got canned by his board last year for much the same kind of behavior and who, er, just happens to be Mr. Safdie’s cousin….
“Unseamly” is smart, fast, filthy and funny….
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To read my review of Eclipsed, go here.
To read my review of The Gin Game, go here.
To read my review of Unseamly, go here.
The trailer for the Yale Repertory Theatre production of Eclipsed:
A live stage performance of the original production of The Gin Game, starring Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy and directed by Mike Nichols. It was taped in London in 1980 and telecast on PBS the following year: