TimeLine Theatre Company ( just the mention of their name brings a knowing smile to most Chicago theater-goers) is known for telling stories that are powerful and historical and doing it quite well. Currently, they are presenting the award winning, “A Raisin In The Sun” by Lorraine Hansberry- a chilling story that takes place back in the 1950’s that talks to Chicago and the integration movement of that era. Directed by Ron OJ Parson who takes us deep into the minds of the Younger family. This is as an ordinary family with dreams and visions about a better life and a better future. They live on the South Side of Chicago, in an apartment where they share a bathroomm with the other tenants on their floor. The set ( Brian Sidney Bembridge, who also did teh lighting design/to perfection) starts before you even get to your seat. You walk into a hallway filled with doors and as you get to the final one, you enter the Younger family abode and take your seat. In this cramped, but livable flat, you will watch a tale of dreams, desires and hopes for this family take place.
Mr Younger, the Patriarch of the family has passed away and the family is waiting for the insurance check so they can forge ahead to a new and better life. Walter Lee ( an exciting Jerod Haynes) is a personal driver, but has ambitions of opening his own business. He lives in this flat with his wife, Ruth ( the adorable Toni Martin), their son, Travis ( played with great intensity by Alex Henderson/alternately by Oscar Vasquez Jr.), his sister,Beneatha ( deftly handled by Mildred Marie Langford) , who wants to be a doctor,and their mother, Lena ( an incredible performance by Greta Oglesby), who wants nothing more than to move them into a place of their own.
For those of you unfamiliar with Chicago and its segregation of the 1050’s, The African Americans, during that time lived in what was called the Black Belts-
South Side and West Side, but NO North Side. In this story, Lena decides that the money be best used to purchase a home in a new area called Clybourne Park ( Bruce Norris wrote a play of that name later which we were able to see at Steppenwolf just a little over a year ago. The Youngers are faced with many set backs in life and after Lena places her deposit on the home, a representative of the “homeowners association” comes to the south side to try and buy her out. It seems that the association is uncomfortable with a balck family moving into their new and pristine neighborhood. Mama Younger, in her haste to keep the family together offers her sone some of the money so he can open a college fund account for his son and the rest to establish the business he wants, but things do not always go according to plan and we bear witness to the struggles of this normal family, one that just wants happiness and a better life as they face the realities of the cards that have been dealt to them.
When things get at their darkest and it looks as if they may take the easy way out, we are able to see the family take the high road and show the world the strength that comes from the love within it. This is a strong cast and the ensemble players that have been assembled prove that in a story it is the quality of the players that make it take on the meaning that the playwright had. This, by the way, was the first Broadway play written by an African American playwright and while it caused a stir, it was right on and in fact, still is!
“A Raisin In The Sun” will continue at TimeLine Theatre located at 615 West Wellington Avenue (Wellington Avenue Church of Christ) through November 17th with a performance schedule as follows:
Fridays at 8 p.m.
Saturdays at 3 and 8 p.m.
Sundays at 2 p.m.
The play runs fairly close to 2 hours and forty-five minutes with an intermission.
Discussions after the show will take place on most Thursday and Sunday performances- visit www.timelinetheatre.com where you can also purchase tickets- along with calling 773-281-8463 xt 6
Tickets range from $35-$48 a solid value for theater of this quality. Students get a $10 discount with valid student ID
Do not hesitate on this one. TimeLine has a small seating capacity and tends to sell out quickly.
To see what others say, visit www.theatreinchicago.com, go to Review Round-up and click at “A Raisin In The Sun”
Parking on the street is tough, but discounted parking is available at LAZ parking lot , 3012 N. Broadway or Standard parking 2846 N. Broadway or at The Century Mall. Bring ticket for validation.