Raisin in the Sun
March 2 – March 5
Written by Lorraine Hansberry
Directed by Dawn Walton
After five generations of slavery and sharecropping the Younger family get the chance to become upwardly mobile, moving from their cramped apartment in Chicago’s south side to a smart home in a white area. Just what could go wrong!
A Raisin in the Sun, at the Liverpool Playhouse, is a powerful drama with a brilliant bunch of black actors brought by the Sheffield- based Eclipse theatre company that recently launched Revolution Mix to spearhead the largest ever national delivery of black British stories in regional theatres. Its aim is to provoke major change, tackle inequality and create a lasting legacy within the UK.
The Oscars may be charged with belonging to a mainly white man’s domain, but on this play alone one can see what we are all missing – wonderful performances and a different perspective.
Writer Lorraine Hansberry shows us the world totally from the black man’s point of view. We have seen some of this before, but not with a complete cast of black actors.
Matriarch Lena (Angela Wynter of Eastenders fame) keeps her family close in a cockroach-infested apartment that originally held just herself, husband and two children. Now with son Walter Lee (Ashley Zhangazha) married to beautiful wife Ruth (Alisha Bailey) and their son Travis, with another one on the way, it all seems a bit crowded.
Frustrations overflow and tensions flare. Money is tight and waiting for the shared bathroom a morning occurrence. Slip into this mix the ambitions of daughter Beneatha (Susan Wokoma) who is studying to be a doctor, with handsome rich beaux knocking on her door, and you get a clash of 1950s perceptions of what black people ought to aspire to.
Lena’s late husband’s insurance money $10,000 is due to land on the mat. When it does everyone has ideas how to spend the money. Chauffeur Travis wants to go into a liquor business with dodgy friends, but Lena wants to buy a new home in a smart, mainly white area. Who prevails?
The cast all give strong performances , taking us on a journey of hope and despair, with a big sprinkling of humour along the way.
Zhangazha gives an angry performance whilst Bailey is the sweet long-suffering wife. Wokoma is a strong Beneatha; capricious and philosophical. But it is the calm matriarch Lena who saves the day, showing with experience and forethought the best road to take.
As Lena said says they used to worry about lynching and moving north – now they have bigger ambitions, as time shows us change is inevitable however long it takes.