Friday, January 20, 2012

Good, Solid Theater

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry. Dir. Phylicia Rashad. The Ebony Repertory Theatre at The Kirk Douglas Theatre. 1/20/12.

This is really an excellent production of an excellent classic play. Everyone involved should be congratulated. The story of the Younger family fighting for opportunities to climb out of working poverty feels relevant and contemporary and political, despite the fact that it's a fairly traditional performance of a play that's 50 years old.

The most notable thing about this play is how real all of the characters feel. Even though Walter Lee's wounded masculinity dominates and terrorizes a houseful of strong, hard-working women, he often appears as the sympathetic center of the play in a way that feels human and realistic. This play makes strong political arguments while providing emotional insight into a range of characters. Their struggle is both high-stakes and absolutely ordinary. All of this is delivered powerfully by strong, sensitive actors in a really good-looking production. It's a fabulous ensemble of talented performers working with great material.

It's always nice to see CTG doing work that isn't by and about middle-aged, middle-class white men. A Raisin in the Sun is a breath of fresh air; I really must congratulate them for doing this partnership with Ebony Rep and for producing this and Fela and Clybourne Park all at the same time. I'm actually seeing new, non-white faces in the audience in addition to the excellent talent onstage.