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TimeLine’s “Raisin in the Sun” Review – A Production Worthy of Chicago’s Literary Treasure at a Historic Moment

By Amy Munice

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When Mother Lena Younger (Greta Oglesby) implores her daughter (Mildred Marie Langford) with her plaintive “You were my harvest!”, we so want daughter Berneatha to see her mother as we do—a font of loving wisdom.  

 

 

She is trying to teach that you give your love when those around you have disappointed you and are at their lowest, and not when all is well.  Our hearts somersault --yet again. 

 

 

We have been living in the Younger’s family’s apartment going through one after another painful moment born of a time-- a moment still alive in many quarters-- when every day is a fight to get past racism’s chains . 

 

 

We smell their bacon cooking on the stove.  Our bladders begin to burst when neighbors get to the bathroom first.  If we are in the front row we have urges to help young Travis make up his bed, which is the couch.  We hate the apartment’s roaches.

 

 

We have seen husband (Jerod Haynes) and wife (Toni Martin) declare their love dead and then later find it alive.  

 

 

We’ve met two of intellectual daughter Berneatha’s suitors – well-heeled George Murchison (Justin James Farley)

 

 

and the fiercely idealistic Nigerian Joseph Asagai (Daryl Satcher)

 

 

and we throb with her desire to live an authentic and important life. 

 

 

We have endured son Walter Lee Younger’s mortal wound of betrayal by friends he trusted

 

 

and how he has railed against a world that would leave him a chauffeur with nothing to pass on to his children. 

 

 

We have been shocked by the despicable representative of the all-white Clybourn Park where the family is slated to move to try to buy them out.  

 

 

We have lived every one of the family fights and yet we never could take sides because we love each and every member of the Younger family.  Mother Lena Younger would have it no other way.

 

Jerod Haynes’ performance is about ferocity-contained and breaking through.  You can’t help but love him because you get to know him first and foremost as his loving mother and wife do.  When you see Toni Martin fall out and into love with her man you relive any and all days when you felt the same about those you have loved.  Anyone who has ever dreamed at all knows Berneatha Younger’s soul, but Mildred Marie Langford never failed in her portrayal of this character to help us feel that craving anew.  

 

Many of us read Lorraine Hansberry’s historic play in school.   But thanks to this stellar cast and especially the nuanced performance of Greta Oglesby as Lena Younger, we more than know but now also feel every moment of this classic story.   Not just feel- we suffer the passions of each and every character in this thoroughly well-acted performance.   Thank you TimeLine for bringing a play that should define Chicago in the world’s eye more than Michael Jordan’s jumpshot or Al Capone’s escapades, but were it better known.

 

How stirring to know that opening night was concurrent with many thousands marching in Washington D.C. to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Had a Dream” speech.   What is Walter Lee Younger saying if not “judge me by my character and not the color of my skin”. 

 

 

TimeLine has given us a production worthy of the classic that “Raisin in the Sun” is.  If you think you already know the story and that you’ve already seen it—think again.  Like many TimeLine productions of classics, this production defines WHY it is a classic in all senses of the word.

  

 

TimeLine Theatre Company

615 West Wellington

Chicago

 

August 28 – November 17, 2013

 

Wednesdays and Thursdays 7:30 PM

Fridays 8:00 PM

Saturdays 3:00 and 8:00 PM

Sundays 2:00 PM

 

For tickets visit www.timelinetheatre.com or call 773 281 8463 x6

 

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Photos: Lara Goetsch

Published on Aug 30, 2013

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