A Raisin in the Sun, written by Lorrain Hansberry was the first Broadway show produced by a black woman. It explores the dreams of a group of middle class African Americans, who wish to break free from their much too ‘cosy’ confines of their flat in Southside Chicago. Eclipse theatre company are true to Hansberry’s vision, and they bring alive ink on paper in a realistic and engaging manner.
The story follows one middle class family on the brink of poverty, each individual hoping to achieve their own dream. These dreams are potentially made possible through the arrival of a cheque worth $10,000, the family are both excited and anxious to see what the future will bring them. The ultimate dream however is the dream of equality, of being able to live in the surrounding American community, without being ostracised. Mostly the family has universal goals which may be applied to any family the world over, dreams of betterment and contentment.
Eclipse theatre fuses gritty naturalism with surreal dream sequences which reference African American dreams of finding identity and domestic harmony. The disillusioning reality of middle class struggles is interrupted briefly with an absorbing and fantastical sequences twice in the play. The first sequence belongs to Bennie, who is a young black woman striving to break free of the confines placed upon her by society. As Bennie attempts to rediscover her origins, she liberates herself of her westernised and ‘mutilated’ hair and dons the traditional Nigerian robes, and begins dancing in the living room, the lights transition from the harsh halogens to warming vermilion, and we are transported to Africa through Bennie’s imaginary vision. Walter and Ruth’s dream of domestic bliss causes the lights to blush rose, and the jazz music they dance to warping sensually as they waltz. I became absorbed in this romantic vision of pure ecstasy, as those two seemed the only two in the world that existed.
Though the outcome of the play may seem positive, as we have hopes for the family’s prosperity, just as Lena has hopes for her small plant to flourish, there is an implication that for this family there will be more struggles to come in Clybourne Park. They have won a small battle, and though spirits are high, the likelihood is that they will face many more trials and tribulations in the days to come.