Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Review: 'A Raisin in the Sun'

Photo: Copyright Broadcasting Companies, Inc.
Review Written by Peggy Eldridge-Love

I saw what I wanted last night. I saw the ultimate in raw emotion spew up like an inferno and scorch an emotional trail that will leave an eternal imprint on my mind. I saw art at its absolute best, at least for me. I saw what I, as an artist - whether visual or written - ache to achieve every time I make an effort. I saw two moments in the 2008 presentation of 'Raisin in the Sun' on ABC that are my reason for blubbering like this here and now.

There were many, many moments throughout the production that I thought were wonderful theatre. Each actor carried their role and made their character a part of my life. I was intrigued with the excellent adaption of this production for today's television. Nothing was lost; both the feel of the stage and the film set were preserved for whichever of the two you, the viewer, were most comfortable with. It all worked.

I was deeply moved by Audra McDonald's delivery of Ruth, the peacemaker, and under appreciated wife. Saana Lathan was an interesting Beneatha, and, Sean Combs was a very welcome surprise in the role of Walter. The authenticity of Phylicia Rashad's Lena was quietly riveting for me. I knew Lena, a hundred Lena's, and I knew without question that so too did Phylicia and that it was that irrevocable memory of our personal Lena's that drove this production straight to that place of immorality.

So, I cut to the chase and name the two moments that I refer to. The first was that moment of self-truth, self-knowledge in which Walter (Sean Combs)collided with his unalterable reality and it was such a physical blow after twising and turning every way he possibly could to try to avoid its acceptance that he finally threw himself onto the steps and collapsed. What he was experiencing was a death and Sean's portrayal of that moment was that moment of learning of a death your soul does not believe it can bear. His performance was profound!

The next such moment was Lean's when she too was forced to accept the reality of not Walter's betrayal or poor judgement, but of how fleeting our worth can be regardless of the cost, how easily it can be dissolved in a split second, and how, no matter what she might do or say to preserve her deceased husband's tangible worth or even spiritual worth that she ultimately had no control over that whatsoever. It was the agony of surrender - of relinquishing that role of control to a higher authority - that I thought I heard and saw and felt in her near animal bellow of anguish. Letting go can be more painful than giving birth, and her letting go ripped the moon from its bed. I will never forget how she made me feel in that moment's performance - ever.

This production may not win an award of any kind, and it may be debated and compared to the original, and we may all have our varying opinions as to the degree of its worth. That is to be expected. But those moments are my "Play it Again Sam" and my "Frankly, Scarlett, I don't give a Damn" cinematic moments and I assure you, I'm keeping them!

1 comment:

Shelia said...

"Letting go can be more painful than giving birth, and her letting go ripped the moon from its bed. I will never forget how she made me feel in that moment's performance - ever."

That scene brought tears to my eyes.