Micro-Review #117: The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window

by Lorraine Hansberry

A recent Broadway revival inspired me to reread one of my favorite plays from the undergrad days. Sidney Brustein is a lefty intellectual in 1960s New York. He’s sharp and idealistic, but also fatally cynical. For Sidney, all crusades are lost causes, because the country was bought and sold a long time ago. Enter Wally, a progressive politician who inspires Sidney to help change the world.

The roadblocks on Sidney’s journey to Utopia are as topical today as they were in 1964. Politics, class, racism and sexual identity are all central themes. Humor and quick-witted wordplay keep things from getting too deep. Sidney does get a little purple at times, and the sentimentality comes from a bygone era, but if you can excuse the timestamps, you’ll find a story that’s well worth reading—and rereading.

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