A standing ovation greeted the climax of this iconic American drama concluding the winter season at the Royal Exchange.
With America’s first black president firmly established in the White House, this work is a fascinating reminder of the early struggles of civil rights activists.
Guest director Michael Buffong, who has enjoyed previous successes at this theatre, returns to put his personal stamp on this play, the first to be written by a black woman, Lorraine Hansberry, and performed on Broadway. It won the New York Drama Critic’s award in 1959.
The impressive cast play members of the Younger family struggling to improve their situation and fulfil their dreams in a white dominated America.
Led by American actress Starletta DuPois, making her UK stage debut as the matriarch Lena, there’s no evidence of performance, she simply inhabits the character imbuing her with great dignity.
Charismatic Ray Fearon plays her son Walter Lee, a passionate dreamer possessed by an electric physicality. It’s a performance of magnitude. Jenny Jules is his long-suffering wife displaying stoicism through appeasement and Tracy Ifeachor is is full of life as Benethea, her sister in law, trying to avoid assimilation by paying homage to her heritage. The rest of the cast provide strong support.
This production has the hallmarks of a Greek tragedy but Buffong has also managed to make it pertinent to a contemporary audience. It richly deserves its enthusiastic reception and ought to be seen elsewhere.
Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, January 27-February 20
- Lorraine Hansberry
- Michael Buffong
- Royal Exchange
- Cast includes
- Starletta DuPois, Ray Fearon, Jenny Jules, Tracy Ifeachor
- Running time