A Noise Within’s “A Raisin In The Sun” Is Flawless

Dante Lopez- Bennett, Copy Editor

Sunday, April 8- the 7 p.m. finale performance of Lorrain Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” saw audience members shed tears, laugh, and erupt to their feet in fervent ovation following the show’s endnote. While the majority of reviews are often quick to be written, there are rare instances in which any writer would be hard-pressed to think of the words with which they can begin to set out on trying to capture the essence of the rare feeling that was underway. As the show’s tentative run came to a close following its seasonal showcase, the performers seemed to leave absolutely every bit of skill they possessed onstage.


Prior to the appearance, it was evident that this final showing garnered considerable attention. The playroom was packed to the nine, with additional seating needing to be rolled out. With an audience of sheer diversity in attendance, there was no shortage of conversational topics that ranged from politics to gossip. Little did the unsuspecting socialites know that in the following moments, would a performance follow that was to have them in tears as it represented the pinnacle of dramatic art.


A spectacle to be beheld indeed, from the first fifteen minutes it was apparent that to achieve something entirely different was the goal of the cast. As they maneuvered and argued their respective ways out of bed in their cramped Chicago apartment. total immersion was underway. As the lights dimmed signaling that a procession was now underway, the audience was awe-struck at just how hyper-realistic the opening lines of the play were delivered. By the end of the first minute, it didn’t feel as though these were rehearsed actors, but rather, a family who had been accustomed to living with one another for years on end. The suspenseful and foreboding introduction of the Walter Lee predicament immediately seized the attention of spectators so that they knew it was time to put the phones away and bear witness to the trials and tribulations of family life.


Director Gregg T. Daniel knew absolutely well what he was doing at the creative helm of the production and his expertise showed in the authentic depiction of an African-American Family in Chicago attempting to gain a foothold in an America still marred by racial prejudice. The money-crazed and maddened brow of Ben Cain’s Walter Lee Younger, and mortified expression of Saundra McClain’s Lena made for encounters that were brilliant. We laughed and smiled at Cain’s depiction of Walter as a loving father, and cried out to implore him of his grave misdeeds as he transitioned into a man possessed by selfish ambition and the accumulation of wealth.


While most reviews have made a custom out of highlighting standout performances, it would be an injustice to do so for all sakes and purposes as absolutely every cast member was out for blood it seemed. They performed as though the weakest link had to jump from the roof. As a seamless articulation of Hansberry’s deep cutting words turned to slick transitions between the time of day, the entire production was revealing itself to be the unfolding of an epic narrative. The cast, in a modern day and modest garb, appeared as natural as fish in their bowl who seemingly did not notice the surrounding audience. It almost felt as though if we, as the audience, had intruded upon a family in its most intimate of times who fearfully contemplated their future.


With respect to the decorum on stage, and artistic direction, Sets to Go and Props Master Erin Walley were evidently meticulous on what objects would best relay sentiment. Anne Jude’s management of the stage lent a logistical hand to the transitions between scenes that needed to be quick. The decision to make the family’s only mirror and window facing the audience functioned as a brilliant figurative and literal poetic device.


With regards to performances, the cast infallibly put on a memorable production.  


Whether it was Amir Abdullah, or Keith Walker’s depiction of Joseph Asagai and George Murchison respectively, the love interests of Beneatha, the omnipotent realization of how important seemingly innocuous everyday encounters in life can really be was realized by the audience who were hysterically receptive to the major decisions of characters. Sarah Hollis’ ardent depiction of the outspoken intellectual Beneatha Younger was a bonafide expression of what masterclass dramatics entail as her witty responses and undying resolve lit up the household. Ruth Younger, portrayed by Toya Turner, was a heartfelt monolith of a performance that left audience members absolutely in tatters as the intricate nature of her role as a mother and wife played the only anchor to Walter’s incessant downward spiral. Ben Cain as Walter Lee Younger was as much of an accomplishment as it was an astonishment. With a relative ease did Mr. Cain seem able to assume an entirely new persona and make for a standout portrayal of a character depicted by so many distinguished actors. The bright-eyed and naive nature of Travis Younger was achieved by Sam Christian who only added to the emotional depth and truistic value of the way in which the production framed the story itself. The debonair depiction of racial prejudice incarnate by Bert Emmett’s Karl Lindner was enough to make your skin crawl. Sandra McClain’s Lena Younger hobbled across the stage with a performance that emanated wisdom and the maturity of years that was perhaps the only thing to keep her family, and the audience’s emotions intact.


A difference between accomplishments, and astonishment, perhaps is not so clearly defined any longer, as A Noise Within’s Spring 2018 “A Raisin In the Sun” cast were able to captivate and astound their audience.