Review: A Raisin in the Sun at Sheffield Crucible Studio Theatre

A Raisin in the Sun is at Sheffield Studio Theatre from next week
A Raisin in the Sun is at Sheffield Studio Theatre from next week

A stunning production of Lorraine Hansberry’s landmark play A Raisin in the Sun is a collaboration between the Eclipse Theatre Company, Sheffield Theatres and Belgrade Theatre Coventry.

It’s a vibrant, funny, moving story about a black American family who live in Southside Chicago.

At the beginning they are waiting for a cheque for 10,000 dollars to arrive, from life insurance taken out by Big Walter Younger, the patriarch of the family, who has died at an early age. The money will belong to his widow, Mama, who is now the dominant presence in the family.

Mama decides to buy a house in a white neighbourhood. Her son, Walter Lee, has dreams of his own, as has Ruth, his wife, and Beneatha, his sister.

The dreams of the Younger family reflect the dreams of a whole people.

We witness moments of weakness, humiliation and defeat; but also strength, gentleness and dignity. Walter and Ruth’s ten year-old son, Travis, carries the hope of his elders.

The title is taken from some lines by Langston Hughes: ‘What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?’

The play is a fascinating portrait of the relationships within the family and the family’s relationship with the wider community.

All the actors are superb. The set is immaculately designed. The music is electrifying.

The director has her finger on the narrative’s pulse.

This is a rich, elegant, haunting, angry, compassionate play which is seldom performed in this country. The production deserves to be widely seen.

A Raisin in the Sun continues at Sheffield’s Crucible Studio Theatre until February 13.