The New York Times once said that Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun "changed American theater forever." The New York Times says a lot of things, and however inadvertently, those things don't always reflect the state of popular affairs. Nonetheless, Raisin has been a vital reminder about race relations in this country since its 1959 Broadway opening.
A strong production of Raisin, which runs through Oct. 3 at the Lyceum space downtown, centers on the Younger family and its resolve to overcome housing discrimination in 1950s south Chicago. As the family's conscience, matriarch Mama (Sylvia M'Lafi Thompson) witnesses her son Walter's (Shaun T. Evans) coming of age as he defends his clan. Walter's sister Beneatha (Monique Gaffney) is a would-be medical student-she and her mother Ruth (P. Shekinah Perkins) serve at opposite ends in Hansberry's indictment of black America's indifference toward its own agenda. Director Claudio Raygoza has imbued his cast with a palpable singlemindedness of purpose.
The show is jointly staged by Common Ground Theatre and ion theatre company and presented by the Fair Housing Council of San Diego. The council has done a good and noble thing here, invoking the theater's immense powers of illustration in America's efforts toward racial equality. 619-699-5888, ext. 201.