- The Stage - https://www.thestage.co.uk -

A Raisin in the Sun review at Crucible Studio, Sheffield – ‘still resonant’

Alisha Bailey and Ashley Zhangazha in A Raisin in the Sun at Crucible Studio, Sheffield Photo Johan Persson

It’s remarkable on how many levels Lorraine Hansberry’s 1959 play still works. It’s a potent historical document, an evocation of a particular time, and yet its preoccupations are still ours. Power, property, and poverty: we’re still having these conversations. Eclipse Theatre’s touring production trusts the text and its complexities – it lets the play sing its song.

The Younger family live in a cramped Chicago apartment with a communal bathroom and roaches which strut around the miniscule kitchen like Napoleon. Having come into some insurance money following the death of her husband, matriarch Lena wants to secure her children’s future by buying a house, one with a yard and enough room for the family to grow. But the area she has chosen is mainly white and the welcoming committee is anything but.

Dawn Walton’s production is solid and unflashy, the pacing slightly hampered by some momentum-sapping scene changes. The ensemble playing is strong with Ashley Zhangzha suitably volatile as Lena’s son, the argumentative and irresponsible Walter, someone whose sense of worth as a man is fatally entangled with the amount of money he can bring in. His performance is a little on the large side, but then his character is one of extremes, hot-tempered and impulsive. Susan Wokoma is a warm and watchable presence as Walter’s intelligent, idealistic sister, Beneatha, with her dreams of becoming a doctor, and Angela Wynter is gently compelling as their mother, Lena, a woman of pride and resolve – the moment towards the end when she buckles and rages at her son is heart-breaking to watch.

Verdict
An engaging if unflashy revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s still resonant play

Production Information

Production
A Raisin in the Sun
Venue
Crucible Studio
City
Sheffield
Starts
January 28, 2016
Ends
February 13, 2016
Press night
February 1, 2016
Authors
Lorraine Hansberry
Director
Dawn Walton
Set
Amanda Stoodley
Lighting
Aideen Malone
Sound
Adrienne Quartly
Stage manager
Paul C Deavin
Production manager
Mark Carey
Cast includes
Alisha Bailey, Aron Julius Susan Wokoma, Ashley Zhangazha, Angela Wynter, Mike Burnside
Casting
Briony Barnett
Producer
Sheffield Theatres, Eclipse Theatre Company, Belgrade Theatre Coventry
Running time
2hrs 35mins