A Raisin In The Sun

The Albany in Deptford has set the dramatic bar for 2016 at a vertiginous height thanks to  director Dawn Walton’s marvellous revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s classic play. This study of a black family trying to break the cycle of hopelessness in 1950s Chicago is an always brilliant, often bitter but sometimes laugh-out-loud funny analysis of racial tensions, gender politics, family values, civil rights and the legacy of the African slave-trade – and in Walton production it was revealed to be as relevant today as it was when it was first staged nearly 60 years ago. Ashley Zhangazha was magnificent as Walter, the man of the house, whose blustering, boozy machismo and crass money-making schemes shatter his family. But it was the women who were truly the stars of this show. Alisha Bailey as put-upon wife Ruth perfectly captured the heartbreak of being torn between rage and “duty”, Susan Wokoma as Walter’s sister nailed the fury of a naively idealistic teenager who sees her dreams go to hell and – best of all – Angela Wynter brought an exquisite dignity and soul-searing grief to her role as the matriarch whose selfless battle to do the right thing for her wayward son is repaid with betrayal. This was theatre at its very best.

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