(Alfred Hickling’s review appeared in the Guardian, 2/2.)

A Raisin in the Sun

Royal Exchange, Manchester

Lorraine Hansberry's drama, in which a black family attempts to move into a white neighbourhood of Chicago in the 1950s, takes its title from a ­Langston Hughes poem that asks: "What ­happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?" It's a ­hallowed text in America, where the most ­recent ­revival featured Sean "P Diddy" Combs in the central role of ­Walter Lee.

The first British production ­following the election of President Obama seems a good moment to ­reappraise a work whose dreams may be deferred no longer. In many respects, the play is as much a bygone relic as the South Side blues bars whose urban honky-tonk underscores Michael ­Buffong's ­brilliantly observed ­production. Its plot device of a ­sudden, life-changing ­inheritance shares ­similarities with Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock in ­demonstrating how, for a family ­hovering just above the poverty line, becoming richer than their wildest dreams can easily become a nightmare.


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