Kofi Payton, Alison Sealy-Smith and Abena Malika bask in A Raisin In The Sun.
A RAISIN IN THE SUN by Lorraine Hansberry (Soulpepper). To November 15. $5-$65. 416-866-8666. See Continuing. Rating: NNNN
There's nothing dated about Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 play A Raisin In The Sun except for its costumes, designed with a fine sense of period by Lorenzo Savoini.
A tale of dreams and pride, the play is set in the roach-ridden Chicago tenement shared by three generations of the Younger family: mother Lena (Alison Sealy-Smith), daughter Beneatha (Cara Ricketts), son Walter Lee (Charles Officer), his wife, Ruth (Abena Malika), and their son, Travis (Kofi Payton).
Hansberry simply yet expertly tracks the roller-coasting results when an insurance cheque provides the chance for the characters to follow their very different dreams. Walter wants to be an entrepreneur, Beneatha hopes to become a doctor, and Lena (and Ruth, too, though she won't immediately admit it) wants a house with land for the family.
Director Weyni Mengesha's emotionally powerful production makes us believe in these dreams. You can't help but be moved by Sealy-Smith's fine work as the wise but humanly fallible matriarch, Ricketts as the young, idealistic woman discovering her African heritage and Malika's devoted wife and mother.
Officer's muted performance subdues much of Walter's anger and frustration until the climactic scene, in which the character defines himself as a worthy successor to his deceased father.
There's memorable work by Barbara Barnes-Hopkins as a busybody neighbour and Awaovieyi Agie and Michael Blake as Beneatha's contrasted suitors. Scott Reid's set, nicely lit by Kevin Lamotte, stylishly suggests the tenement neighbourhood.