Third Wall Academy is comprised of young actors, ages 16-19, who train with Third Wall Theatre for half a year, then getting into rehearsal on a full production. This year, that production is Eclipse, by Simon Armitage.
Should you see it?
When Eclipse was over, I wasn’t exactly sure what I just watched. I’m still not.
The show starts with a group of kids sitting in wait to be questioned by authorities about the disappearance of Lucy Lime. We cut back to this framing device periodically as each character is questioned.
The main thrust of the play is the goings on of a group of kids while waiting for a full solar eclipse. There’s leader-of-the-pack, Klondike, tomboy Tulip, high-as-a-kite Glue Boy, blind-as-a-bat Midnight, and twins-who-share-one-identity Polly and Jane. Not a one is particularly amiable or interesting and it’s never made clear what age they’re supposed to be portraying – I’d guess 12ish? Enter Lucy Lime, a mischievous (similar-aged) stranger who one-by-one is able to perfectly get into the heads of each of the group as if meticulously planned from deep character study.
Yet, it’s all entirely pointless. None of the characters change and nothing actually happens. Lucy disappears under circumstances that are barely explained and that’s kind of it.
Maybe I missed something important – because of the direction, or the performances, or the script itself – but I didn’t get it. Eclipse might have been more interesting if (a) the characters seemed to grow from their interactions and (b) Lucy was kept a complete enigma as if she may never have even existed but neither was the case.
Eclipse is written largely in a poetic verse that feels false more than rings true – the trick with stylized speech is that it still has to sound like something a real person would say. Part of me thinks this was the cast having trouble connecting to and pulling off the material but it could well just be the script.
For their part, the cast of Eclipse did an all right job. Helen Thai as Lucy stands out as being perfectly calculating and manipulative in her interactions with the others. And Leah Morris and Stephanie Velichkin as Polly and Jane pulled off their always-in-sync or in-time dialogue well.
Where the strength of this cast came through best seemed to be where that poetic verse was dropped (or minimized) and we were treated to emotion and interaction from them that felt real. Those were the scenes that reminded me of the shows I’ve loved in previous years by the same basic group.
This year, however, Eclipse was not for me.
What did you think of Eclipse? Did I miss the boat entirely? Did it work for you? Join the discussion in the comments below.