A Raisin in the Sun, the seminal work of playwright Lorraine Hansberry, tells the story of Walter Lee Younger and his family. Their dreams and plans have been thwarted and yet a ray of hope remains in the form of a life insurance check which could provide a new future for all of them. The Indiana Repertory Theatre is producing the play just in time for Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Black History month.
Tony Cisek’s incredible set design transports the audience into Chicago tenements. There are worn rugs on the floor, holes in the ceiling, and every rustic detail pulls us back into the 1950s. It takes a moment to notice the second layer of the set. Three stories of staircases rise up behind the apartment walls, simultaneously demonstrating the oppressive nature of their situation and the hope of rising to a better future.
Kim Staunton is perfectly cast as the matriarch Lena. Her performance gives the entire show an earnest and raw sense of urgency. She seems the cracks in the relationships around her and is just trying to find a way to hold her family together.
Dorcas Sowunmi plays Ruth, the disenchanted wife of Walter Lee, and her exhaustion is palpable. Beneatha (Stori Ayers) is all sass and ideals, just like any college student. Walter Lee (Chiké Johnson) dreams big, but lives a life of frustration, beaten down by his circumstances and failed endeavors. Each actor embodies their role wonderfully, making the ensemble as a whole feel like a true family.
The work speaks for itself. Hansberry’s dialogue is beautifully written and completely believable. The play is about hope and heartbreak, trust and disappointment. It’s about the struggle to communicate, between spouses, generations, genders, and cultures. These messages are powerfully conveyed. It’s not an easy show to watch; though there are moments of humor. But this seems like the perfect time to revisit the Younger family and the story of a dream deferred.
Don't Miss the Show
The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois St. and southbound Capitol Ave. The show runs until Feb. 3 on IRT's OneAmerica Mainstage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252. To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.comPhotos courtesy of the IRT