The real star, though, as it should be, is Hansberry, an utterly underrated playwright and enormously promising intellectual who died at age 34, as her criminally short-shrifted play The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window was closing its unsuccessful Broadway run. Hansberry was a brilliant writer, an inspired sketch artist and painter, a librettist, a witty correspondent, a real in-the-trenches activist, a proud Marxist (and this in the 1950s, before she had any celebrity to insulate her from attack, and when celebrities themselves weren't insulated anyway), an associate editor of Paul Robeson's radical leftist magazine Freedom, a reputed bisexual and dues-paying member of the Daughters of Bilitis (offering regular columns to their journal, The Ladder), an aspiring novelist, and an articulate grasper of global systems and political complexity. She thought and understood at the same level as James Baldwin or Tony Kushner, and she was able to get her audience to think at that level, too. Raisin is her most conventionally realist work, but it is layered, ambiguous, and fine-tuned as few American dramas areit's better, I think, than anything by Millerand hearing its impeccable dialogue and its stunning syntheses of familial, racial, local, sexual, sociological, and international tensions ring through the electrified air of a sold-out theater is a great way to pass a day.
And a lucky day it is, if you live in Hartford, or near it, since the show has been extended an extra week, through March 26. So pony up!