Rating: PG-13 Running time: 131 minutes Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment DVD Release Date: May 13, 2008 DVD Extras: Director's commentary, a ’Behind-the-Scenes' featurette, and bonus reviews.
DVD Review by Kam Williams Excellent (4 stars)
Lorraine Hansberry’s (1930-1965) ’A Raisin in the Sun’ was the first play written by a black woman ever to open on Broadway. It takes its title from the opening line in a poem by Langston Hughes which poses the question ’What happens to a dream deferred?’
The original theatrical production debuted on March 11, 1959 and starred Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee. Its semi-autobiographical storyline was loosely based on real-life events which unfolded in Hansberry’s own family back in the Thirties. At the time her parents had been met with pure hatred after purchasing a home in a lily-white, Chicago enclave.
The play focuses on a fictional family named Younger with dreams of moving out of the ghetto but still living in a dilapidated tenement on Chicago’s South Side. A recent Broadway revival featured Sean ’Diddy’ Combs surrounded by Phylicia Rashad, Audra McDonald, Sanaa Lathan and Bill Nunn. That talented ensemble has been reassembled for this latest version.
At the point of departure, we meet Walter, Jr. (Combs) a hard-working 35 year-old chauffeur in the process of assuming the role of patriarch following the death of his father. The plot revolves around the question of how Walter Sr.’s life insurance proceeds ought to be spent.
Walter. Sr.’s widow (Rashad) thinks they should use the money to buy a home in a white neighborhood, since the five of them are currently cramped in a rundown, roach-infested apartment. His daughter, Beneathea (Lathan), wants some of the money to pay for med school, while ambitious Walter would like to invest in a liquor store with his pal, Bobo (Nunn), and smooth-talking Willy (Ron C. Jones). After Lena hands the check over to her son, it's just a matter of time before she comes to regret that ill-advised decision.
Helped immeasurably by his talented co-stars, Diddy comes of age as an actor here, delivering a memorable performance in an African-American literary classic which proves to be every bit as relevant today as the day it was first staged.