A Raisin in the Sun | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

A Raisin in the Sun 

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A Raisin in the Sun, Hidden Stages Productions, at Blackwell Memorial A.M.E. Zion Church. The setting of Lorraine Hansberry's 1959 drama is a predominantly black ghetto on Chicago's south side, but what made A Raisin in the Sun a crossover success and the inspiration for a genre flourishing to this day is the universality of the issues faced by the Younger family. Should the money from the late Mr. Younger's insurance policy be given to his son to start a business? Or to his daughter to finance her education? Or used to buy a house far from their squalid surroundings? Such difficult choices are made every day by families seeking to better themselves in a society in which upward mobility is encouraged but carries its risks.

A Raisin in the Sun encompasses a wealth of ideas, some presaging later cultural developments--among them, the heightened Afrocentrism of the 1960s--and some reflecting attitudes now undeniably passe: even the most freethinking man here cannot help but come off as rather sexist. This is the most fully realized Hidden Stages production to date, however; director Rodrick Jean-Charles maintains an unhurried but never faltering pace, and the cast--led by the indomitable Doris Craig Norris as the Younger matriarch--immerse themselves so wholly in their characters that even scenes bordering on melodrama seem plausible. --Mary Shen Barnidge

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