Josephine Cooper ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
“There is always something left to love.” The house lights dim as loud rap music begins to play, and dozens of bright lights slowly shine brighter and brighter upon the dilapidated “rap trap” of an Chicago apartment, as it spins center stage to give the audience a personal peek into the lives of a working class African American family of the 1950’s. Lorraine Hansberry’s timeless A Raisin in the Sun literally lights up Huntington Theatre Company, with its artful presentation of the first play by an African American women to premiere on Broadway.
The play is about a working class family known as the Younger’s, and their struggles through a time in the South End of Chicago in the 1950’s, when they are thankful to be given the opportunities they have, but crave a life which seems to be only “a dream deferred.” The play encompasses the trials of protagonist Walter Lee Younger, as he finds himself in a time in his life when he desperately desires to know the security of money. His dream seems to be right in his grasp when the family receives a check in the mail written to the tune of 10,000 dollars, from the insurance company, due to the death of Walter Lee Younger’s father. The family immediately falls into dispute about the use of the money. Walter Lee wishes to invest in a business proposition. However, his mother Lena Younger, takes charge of the money, and puts a down payment on a home for the family in the entirely white community of Clybourne Park.
A Raisin in the Sun is a testimony to “The American Dream.” It features characters that struggle for little more than their honor, and a solid American lifestyle, in a time where racism has a way of robbing them of it. They search for their African roots, in an attempt to better understand themselves, in a world where Africa means little more to the African American than the story of “Tarzan.” This struggling family faces times of frustration and betrayal, but in the end, no matter how hard times get and how frail the connection between relationships becomes, Lena Younger reminds of us all that when if comes to family, “There is always something left to love.”
Director Liesl Tommy’s production is beautifully portrayed, using small elements such as the opening music, to remind the audience that this story is truly timeless. Inequality is a constant issue prevalent around the globe. Clint Ramos’ design is brilliant. His set literally turns like a clock, as moments in the characters lives change with time. The lighting design by Lap Chi Chu highlights beautiful moments of palpable human emotion, bringing the audience’s heart so close to the characters, they feel as if they could touch their wilting spirits. Stand out performances are given by LeRoy McClain as Walter Lee Younger, and Kimberly Scott as Lena Younger. This classic play is often stereotyped as what some critics call a “Last Mama on the Couch Play.” In fact a spoof of A Raisin in the Sun was even created with exactly this title. However, the flawlessly professional and passionate actors and actresses at Huntington Theatre Company, succeed in creating their version of A Raisin in the Sun, sans one drop of over exaggerated emotion. Instead, the entire company unites to create a piece of art, which takes a realistic look at the human condition, and the universal ability to create change one proud family at a time.