Review: A Raisin In The Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry, the New Wolsey Theatre until February 20

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, at the New Wolsey Theatre

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, at the New Wolsey Theatre - Credit: Archant

Almost sixty years have passed since this play about a family in a black American ghetto was first performed yet its many layered messages of human emotion shine through as brightly as in1959.

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, at the New Wolsey Theatre

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry, at the New Wolsey Theatre - Credit: Archant

‘Mama’ (Angela Wynter) is expecting a cheque for $10,000 from her late husband’s life insurance policy.

Son Walter, daughter Beneatha, and daughter in law Ruth (respectively Ashley Zhangazha, Susan Wokoma and Alisha Bailey) have differing opinions about how the money should be spent. Walter longs for the chance to go into business, Beneatha wants to be a doctor, and Ruth is desperate to get out of the cockroach-infested flat where her son Travis (Adryan Dorset Pitt) has to sleep on the couch.

This is a play about tradition versus modernity and the struggle that so many, of whatever colour, has finding their place in the world. What ‘Mama’ does is force her black family to find their way by buying a house in an all-white neighbourhood. Sparks fly as the family seek their own identities and solutions.

Susan Wokoma plays the feisty young daughter with astonishing verve and epitomises youth’s fight to make its voice heard and confront parental boundaries. Like Walter, Beneatha has dreams, but they are expressed in different ways Walter railing angrily against his circumstances, frustrated by the hand fate has dealt him. Towards the end there is a shocking piece of raw emotion performed beautifully by Zhangazha as he is forced to face the reality of a friend’s betrayal and his subsequent failure as a son, husband and father.


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This insightful play was written before its time and has extraordinary relevance to today. Director Dawn Walton and the entire cast gave it new life and, surprisingly, the play itself has hope, resilience and determination at its core and not a little comedy from the young Beneatha.

Carol Twinch

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