“A Raisin in the Sun” By Lorraine Hansberry

“A Raisin in the Sun”
by Lorraine Hansberry
Live Cast recording
Produced by L.A. Theatre Works
Approx. 2.5 hours

Wanting to revisit my theatre days, I set myself to listen to a few plays turned into audio books. I read several plays while earning a degree in theatre from Southern Illinois University and I know that plays are meant to be performed but now residing in an area where live theatre just doesn’t happen on a regular basis, I decided to go back and listen to some audio performances as part of my constant audio book stream. I first tried some Shakespeare, I actually love Shakespeare, but the audio performance wasn’t clicking with me at the time. So, after a while I find this treasure L.A. Theatre Works’ Production of “A Raisin in the Sun.” I remember reading this play in my Theatre History class and seeing a couple performances with some great actors and knowing I have enjoyed the play in the past, I gave this one a shot.

I was in for a couple of treats when putting this cd into my player. First that one of the performers, Rutina Wesley is one of my favorite actors from the TV series “True Blood” (she plays Sookie’s friend Tara). And second that the recording is superb. Every subtlety of the voices is captured and it seems as though the actors have been doing audio only acting for a while because events that may be seen in the performance and not necessarily heard were clearly communicated. The recording was superb and the acting was excellent in this audio version. Even the sound effects were captured perfectly, things such as shutting of doors, flushing of toilets and clinking of glasses were heard when needed. This makes for the perfect audio book experience that I have come to expect. I know I will be searching for more productions from L.A. Theatre Works.

The story covers a struggling African-American family in Chicago, the Youngers. The Youngers represent the 4th, 5th and 6th generation of their family brought to America via slavery. The family is struggling to make a go at living out the American dream. Mama Lena Younger’s husband has passed and the family is expecting a $10 thousand check from the insurance company. Mama Lena has plans to move into a better home, however, her children have other plans. Son, Walter Lee wants to buy a liquor store and daughter, Beneatha wants to go to medical school.

On the day the check arrives, Lena goes out and comes back that evening having used the money as a down-payment on a house in a white neighborhood. Eventually she entrusts Walter with the remaining amount. She tells Walter to put $3 thousand into the bank for Beneatha’s school and use the rest as he sees fit.

This story is full of ups and downs as the family is told they are not wanted in the white neighborhood, Beneatha gets a marriage proposal, and Walter invests all the remaining money (including Beneatha’s share) and loses it. How the family handles the good and the bad creates a play that is a true testament to hope, not only to African-Americans, but to anyone. Virtues and vices are explored and true hope is found.

A classic play produced with excellent quality create this great audio masterpiece.