Eclipse - ‘A Tiny Moment That Can Change the World’ - REVIEW

Kali and Leah have been friends since childhood. Kali is wrestling with her sexuality and gender identity. Leah tries to support her best friend but feels shut out as Kali struggles to vocalise her thoughts.

Eclipse, written by Alice Nicholas, conveys the angst of being C21st teenagers coping not only with complex issues but in a harshly opinionated world that overshares through social media. During a residency in 2015-16, with Creative Youth Network, an organisation which builds supportive relationships with young people across the South West, Nicholas was inspired by conversations with young people about gender and identity.

Leah (Florence Espeut-Nickless) narrates the play. Espeut-Nickless’s irrepressible performance sparkles like her sequinned jacket as she tries to laugh her best friend out of her moods. Kali’s character has two identities: a female (Maisie Newman) and a male (Ashley Jones). At first, the male identity is repressed but as the play progresses, this identity emerges. Newman’s portrayal of Kali is convincing and her plaintive refrain ‘What’s wrong with me?’ resonates with the pain of adolescence.

All actors speak with West Country accents. It is refreshing to see portrayals of complex characters speaking in a local dialect, without resorting to the usual stereotypes. Humour lightens the mood, most effectively when Leah corrects a police officer when he (wrongly) assumes Kali’s mother is a ‘Mrs’.

Music and dance are used to explore gender and how Kali comes to terms with her identity. Leah observes Kali’s problems manifesting in depressive states and culminating in self-harm. The dancing is surreal and fluid, often imaginatively moving the plot on in time.

Eclipse feels authentic. This compassionate production gives an insight into how one young person comes to terms with identity and sexuality.

(c) Samantha Coughlan April 2017

26th April 2017

The Station

Creative Youth Network

Leah - Florence Espeut-Nickless
Kali - Maisie Newman
Kai - Ashley Jones

Writer - Alice Nicholas
Director - Stephanie Kempson
Movement Director - Joel Daniel
Sound and Music Director - Alex Lupo
Set & Costume Designer - Alison McDowall
Lighting Designer - Matthew Graham
Stage Manager - Chloe Walker

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