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Review: ‘The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window’ leaves no identity unturned

Lorraine Hansberry’s second Broadway work returns to the Main Stem.

(L-R) Rachel Brosnahan as Iris and Oscar Isaac as Sidney in “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window” (Credit: Julieta Cervantes)

History hails Lorraine Hansberry for her acute dramatization of the Black, working-class Younger family in “A Raisin in the Sun.” Like the Youngers, Hansberry experienced post-World War II housing discrimination as a child, which reinforced patterns of segregation during the 1950s — especially in densely populated cities like Hansberry’s hometown of Chicago. The American theater touts that play as her most outstanding achievement, but the endlessly fascinating current revival of her second Broadway work, “The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window,” vies for a seat at the throne.

Hansberry was only 29 when “Raisin” premiered on Broadway, an age she lends to “Sidney Brustein”’s Iris (Rachel Brosnahan) — one half of the play’s toxic married couple. Iris yearns for a successful theater career in order to escape the blunt realities for women of her time — middle-class mundanity like her prim, prejudiced older sister, Mavis (Miriam Silverman, now a Tony nominee for this perfect performance), or the infinite dangers of prostitution like her younger sister, Gloria (​​Gus Birney).

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