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Hamptons Theater Review: "A Raisin In The Sun" At Bay Street Theater

T.J. Clemente

The actors were all powerful in their own ways with their own styles. (Photo: Michael Heller)

A Raisin in the Sun is an explosive fireball of drama that left the audience standing and cheering as one. This important play written by Lorraine Hansberry touched the heart and soul of everyone in the audience. The show is part of Bay Street's "Literature Live" program and there is no doubt that this play is important literature. It will be playing at Bay Street Theater in Sag Harbor until Sunday, December 1.

The actors were all powerful in their own ways with their own styles. However Chauncy Thomas' performance as Walter Lee Younger had a kinetic force that electrified the theater with every word of every line as he moved around the stage with an energy felt even in the back row. On the other end of the spectrum of that kind of total kinetic energy is the performance of Erin Margaret Pettigrew as Walter Lee Younger's wife, Ruth Younger. Ms. Pettigrew's grace and strength of character, along with an ability to speak softly, but with enough force that the person in the last seat in the back of the theater could hear every line played perfectly in tandem with Chauncey Thomas' explosiveness. Kudos to her for bringing the toils of Ruth Younger into the audience's favor with such finesse and ease.

Cassia Thompson is brilliant as Beneatha Younger. Her stage presence is a bright light to this production. Thompson is a "can't keep your eyes off of her type of actor," and no one did. She has that "it" factor.

In every play, there is a character in the production who is the essence of the message of the play. Cooki Winborn as Lena Younger is the magic potion that glues this play together. Her timing in delivering her lines, saying the important words is exquisite. She owned the audience with her performance. I salute her, as did the standing ovation from the audience.

Kaden Amari Anderson as Travis Younger gives the show a touch of youthfulness and innocence, juxtaposed to the multiple important issues this play deals with.

Michael Chenevert is very elegant and charming as George Murshison. Justin Jorrell brings a certain cache in his portrayal of Bobo. Jonathon Farrington plays Joseph Asagal with a certain magic. His smile is most effective.

Joe Pallister, who plays Karl Lindner, enters the play late in the show. However, Pallister knows the spotlight of the live theater. He was born to have that spotlight find him. He is at home under its glow.

Director Lydia Fort, in an interview about A Raisin in the Sun a few weeks back told us, "There are so many different themes in this play. It will be easy to hear or find the themes you are interested in and resonate with you. Dreams are a huge important thing for me and I hope that is something we can really highlight in this production, what it is to have a dream and to feel like you can never attain it, ...especially when Walter tries to get his liquor shop and is deceived by the very people he feels he should be able to trust." Lydia Fort's direction is a success. The play is a success because it brought so many themes and issues front and center in such a credible way that the audience stood and cheered.

You must get to Bay Street Theater to see this show.

Tickets to A Raisin in the Sun range from $15 to $55.

Bay Street is located at 1 Bay Street in Sag Harbor. For more information, call 631-725-9500 or visit www.baystreet.org.

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