“Raisin In The Sun”, A poem by the great jazz poet, Langston Hughes, deals with a family who is about to get a substantial amount of money from Lena Younger’s late husband. Lena,(Amanda Hargrove), is a stern , righteous women who loves her family and wants them to be always on the right path to life, whether ethically or spiritually. Everyone in the family has an opinion about what she should do with the money. The logical choice would be to stop working, she is older, has a bad hip and could use a much needed rest. Lena and daughter in law,Ruth, ( Kyria Geneva), are domestic cooks.
Lena is faced with constant tribulations from her son Walter,(Dexter Thomas Payne), and daughter Beneatha, (Yanece Cotto). Walter has his sites on bigger things as he believes that he and his two friends, Willy and Bobo are made to be in business together, that the three have the recipe for success. Beneatha questions God’s existence in the beginning and then becomes an activist for black causes. Her transformation is due in part by a potential suitor, Asagia, (Moses Sesay) , a Nigerian student in Chicago to complete his studies.
“Raisin” takes us through a period in the Younger apartment where Lena has never stopped loving her husband “Big Walt”, she never wanted for anything only a ethical loving family. She tells her son in her own way there is nothing wrong with being a chauffeur, she encourages her daughter to be a doctor and heaps plenty of love on grandson Travis, (Michel Brown-Taveras) . Lena sits by and watches Walt tear Ruth apart with his hair brain philosophies about black women and life in general.
Lorraine Hansberry has written a gem. In the beautiful, well appointed HRT , the story moves fluidly through the entire two plus hours. She makes her points about the problems of being black without force feeding it to the audience. The play takes place between WW2 and the present. My thoughts are that it takes place more late 50’s early 60’s before the radical 60’s really beholden the country.
The lighting went well with the show, nothing elaborate as it set the mood of this simple family that has some inner turmoil. The costumes were very well done, from the plain dress of Travis, to the simple wear of Lena, to the college outfit of George Murchinson,(A.J. Acevedo). Jarrid Jones puts forth excellent choices in costumes throughout the show. The African garb that Beneatha wears as she transforms is well done, it expresses her conflict between Asagia and George, from conventional to non conventional. Director Keith Lee Grant did a marvelous job with this cast, the emotions of each and every one of the characters were heartfelt and sincere.
The cast were all very good and deliver Hansberry’s writing as an emotionally charged deep moving piece .Hargrove gives us a performance that will last in my mind for a very long time. Hargrove is both explosive and creative in her works here. All the actors blend well as there timing is impeccable. Between the humor and the tears, the cast is molded brilliantly to create a wonderful evening.
The Harlem Rep is located on 123 erd st. just off 3 erd ave.