Dramaworks 'A Raisin in the Sun' a dream production
They ought to issue seat belts for the production of A Raisin in the Sun at Palm Beach Dramaworks. The show is a two hour-plus roller coaster ride of emotional peaks and valleys fueled by a gifted cast and driven by a director deeply in tune with the story. Lorraine Hansberry's classic, semi-autobiographical play about the havoc wrought by a big insurance payment on the lives of a working-class black family living in Chicago in the 1950s is packed with harrowing plot turns, rich characters and big issues. Racial prejudice frames the story, but the conflicts, hopes and dreams that propel the characters are not bounded by color. ...The play is all about dreams, and how thwarted dreams can fester and destroy lives. Racial prejudice plays a role in this, of course, and the scenes in which a representative of a white neighborhood tries to buy off the family to keep them from moving in are repugnant. But the characters' responses to their circumstances shape their fates as well. Ethan Henry gives a towering performance as Walter, traveling a course that takes him from nasty drunk to over-exuberant dreamer, to redemption. Walter meets his match in Pat Bowie's Lena, who is equal parts velvet and steel. Shirine Babb brings a generous humanity to Walter's neglected wife, Ruth, and Joniece Abbot Pratt shines as the feisty Beneatha, who aspires to be a doctor. Jordan Tisdale plays Beneatha's wealthy assimilated suitor George, and Marckenson Charles portrays Joseph Asagai, a Nigerian student whose patriotic aspirations are among the few parts of the play that feel dated. Mekeil Benjamin plays Travis and David Hyland appears as the white bigot Karl. Director Seret Scott's unflinchingly honest approach to the story makes us believe in this family, and care deeply about what happens to them. They suffer, they behave foolishly, they're cruel and they're kind. You won't soon forget them.