Review Roundup: A RAISIN IN THE SUN at Virginia Rep

Review Roundup: A RAISIN IN THE SUN at Virginia RepVirginia Rep presents Lorraine Hansberry's classic, A RAISIN IN THE SUN! Set in the south side of Chicago in 1950s, A RAISIN IN THE SUN begins when the Younger family receives ten thousand dollars following the death of the family patriarch. Though everyone in the family wants to use the money in order to better themselves, tensions brew when it becomes unclear how best to make that happen. A RAISIN IN THE SUN opened February 16th, and will run through March 11th.

Let's see what the critics had to say!

Tony Farrell, Richmond Times-Dispatch: Jerold Solomon brings powerful and authentic presence to Walter Lee, who angles to invest the insurance money in a liquor-store venture, and Katrinah Carol Lewis perfectly balances Ruth's air of regal purpose with her sense of growing frustration with her impatient husband. Jasmine Coles nearly steals the show as the feisty and independent-minded Beneatha, and Trezana Beverley, as Lena, slowly comes to dominate everyone on stage as her character, the play's action and its sense of risk rise to a fever pitch. Bru Ajueyitsi, Kevin Minor, Joseph Marshall and Doug Blackburn also do excellent work in a variety of important supporting roles. At a full three hours with intermission, "A Raisin in the Sun" is too long by 20 minutes, and while director Tawnya Pettiford-Wates rightly savors each plot point and character digression, Hansberry's script, written when the playwright was only in her 20s, sometimes overreaches by trying to ring every bell in the modern black experience.

Jeremy Bustin, BroadwayWorld: The entire cast delivers in one of the most captivating ensemble pieces of theatre this season. Jerold Solomon bursts with the energy of Walter Lee Younger's dreams, but finds himself shackled by his poverty and desperation. Katrinah Carol Lewis delivers one of her finest performances as Walter Lee's ready-to-break yet strongminded wife. Bru Ajueyitsi is convincing as Beneatha's friend-turned-romantic-interest and has an authentic Nigerian accent. Kevin Minor perfectly captures George Murchison's privileged and high-class life. Matthias Williams is charming as the youngest member of the Younger family. Jasmine Coles is perfectly cast as the eccentric and aspirational Beneatha, and has a show-stealing moment with a tribal chant and dance featuring an equally delightful Solomon. But it's Trezana Beverley as Lena 'Mama' Younger, who gradually inherits the reins of the production with a finely shaded performance. Audiences will hear the nuance in every word she speaks and absorbedly watch every move she makes.

Julinda D. Lewis, RVArt Review: Whether you approach it from the emic perspective of one who sees a reflection of their own family or the etic perspective of one who is looking into the window of black life, A Raisin in the Sun can be a powerful and intense theatrical experience. Running nearly three hours with one intermission, it takes its time developing, allowing the intricacies of the characters and situations to sink in, to marinate, and it does so without seeming to drag or get weighed down. This I credit to Hansberry's writing, the intimate direction of Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Waites, and the cast, led by Tony Award winning actress Trezana Beverley as Lena "Mama" Younger, Jerold E. Solomon as Walter Lee Younger, and Katrinah Carol Lewis as Ruth Younger.

Jerry Williams, Sifter: Classics are considered classics for a reason (or raisin) and this remains an enthralling drama with compelling characters and powerful messages. Luckily, this production elevates the play with a uniformly superior cast. Trezana Beverley perfectly captures her character's matriarchal strength and stern demeanor. The climactic scene in Act 2 is one the most powerful moments in recent theatre. Jerold E. Solomon's misguided son is dominant, yet touching, while Katrinah Carol Lewis plays his wife with controlled intensity. As the sister searching for her identity, Jasmine Coles turns in a charismatic performance. The direction by Tawnya Pettiford-Wates has a natural style, that's paced well, while allowing for quieter moments. There's also a generous measure of comedy. Katherine Field's "rat trap" artistically references their environment, but could have used a few shabby touches (and flats a bit less wobbly). Lynne Hartman sets the mood with expressive lighting and Emily Tappan's costumes were appropriate and attractive.

Photo Courtesy of Aaron Sutten.

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