The Tennessean Review: A Raisin in the Sun

Review: 'Raisin in the Sun' paints vibrant family portrait

Amy Stumpfl | The Tennessean

It’s been nearly 60 years since Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin in the Sun” first debuted on Broadway. But as Nashville Repertory Theatre’s marvelous staging demonstrates, this landmark drama remains as powerful — and relevant —  as ever.

Exploring the hopes, dreams and crushing struggles of an African-American family in 1950s Chicago, the play takes its name from a line in a Langston Hughes’ poem — “What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?”

For the Younger family matriarch Lena, that dream involves owning a decent home, and putting her daughter Beneatha through medical school with the $10,000 life insurance policy left by her late husband. But her frustrated son Walter Lee has bigger plans, hoping to invest in a business of his own.

Directed by producing artistic director, René D. Copeland, the Rep’s production beautifully balances the humor and heartbreak of the Younger family. And beyond potent themes of racial inequality, it highlights the age-old battle between generations — the parents who cling to their values and the children in search of their own.

Jackie Welch embodies the quiet dignity of Lena, a woman often bewildered by the restless rancor of her offspring. But she’s at her best when she lets loose with Lena’s hard-won wisdom, slapping down Beneatha’s new-fangled ideas and reminding us that “there is always something left to love” in our fellow man.