October 14, 2015

Lupita Nyong’o, the Oscar winner and radiant darling of red-carpet-watchers, is not really the star of “Eclipsed,” Danai Gurira’s shattering drama about women’s suffering during the Liberian civil wars. Although the character played by Ms. Nyong’o, called only “the Girl” in the program, occupies its dramatic center, Ms. Gurira’s play is not a star vehicle but an ensemble piece, with terrific roles for five women. Nevertheless, it was Ms. Nyong’o’s decision to appear in the play that helped usher it onto the stage of the Public Theater, where it opened on Wednesday night in a riveting, superbly acted production directed by Liesl Tommy. I hope Ms. Nyong’o’s starlight draws audiences to this detailed and painfully moving exploration of the brutality and dehumanization that seem to be endemic to African conflicts. The play illustrates how women and girls are usually the first and most horrifically abused victims of such warfare. Although the events that inspired it took place more than a decade ago, “Eclipsed” remains dispiritingly topical.