Our 40th Anniversary Summer Season has only just begun, and the buzz has been overwhelming. Since Opening Night on May 24, reviews for A Raisin in the Sun have been praising the stellar cast and inventive production.
Karen D’Souza, in her review in the San Jose Mercury News, called Cal Shakes’ Raisin a “resonant revival” that “taps into the timelessness of the characters, the way their struggles to keep their heads above water echo our own.” D’Souza praised the “powerhouse actresses” that portray the three women. “Ryan Nicole Peters etches Lena’s daughter-in-law Ruth with great sensitivity,” wrote D’Souza. “Walter Younger’s wife doesn’t usually get a chance to speak her mind but Peters colors her glances with so much exhaustion and regret that you always feel the impact of her presence. Peters also shows us how easily Ruth blossoms in a rare moment of kindness from her husband.”
Robert Hurwitt, writing in the San Francisco Chronicle, called the performance a “solidly entertaining outing,” and said that starting the 40th Anniversary Season with Raisin was “quite an accomplishment” for Cal Shakes. Hurwitt praised director Patricia McGregor and set designer Dede Ayite’s skill at creating a “cramped, overcrowded tenement apartment” in the “wide-open Bruns Amphitheater.”
“Director Patricia McGregor and scenic designer Dede M. Ayite’s solution is elegantly straightforward and suitably inelegant. The Southside Chicago home the Youngers dream of escaping is a tight, badly worn living room-kitchenette framed within a grid of old wood stairways, landings and clotheslines.
Hurwitt also praised Margo Hall’s “forcefully assertive” Mama Younger, and the “magnetic” Marcus Henderson (Walter Lee Younger), whom he described as “a battlefield of anger, thwarted ambitions and desperate dreams.” Likewise, Hurwitt wrote that Nemuna Ceesay “lights up the stage as the sassy, intellectually omnivorous, outspoken college student Beneatha.”
In a previous San Jose Mercury News article on the upcoming season, Karen D’Souza called Cal Shakes “a jewel of the Bay Area’s bustling summer outdoor theater scene,” and stated plainly: “Lord, what fools these mortals be if they miss the 40th anniversary season at the California Shakespeare Theater.”