American Players Theatre FENCES Review – Keeping the World In

Posted August 24, 2019

Fences News 7

By Alexis Bugajski, Picture This Post, August 21, 2019. 

Onstage, we look at the backyard of a rundown house with faded blue paint and a half built fence. A lone, scrappy looking tree stands off to the side with a baseball bat leaning alongside it and a rag ball hanging from its branches. As dusk falls around the theatre, we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect setting for August Wilson’s FENCES.

Feels Like Friday Night at American Players Theatre

Troy and his friend Bono stumble happily into Troy’s yard still clad in their work jumpsuits. After getting off work, they’re ready to let loose and relax. It’s Friday, they just got paid and share a bottle of gin between the two of them. They laugh and joke with each other and are soon joined by Troy’s wife, Rose, on the porch for their Friday night ritual.

This snappy dialogue at the beginning draws us into the world of this African-American family getting by in the 1950s. As the story continues, their world slowly unravels as Troy attempts to keep it together, much like building a fence around  his world.  Part of Wilson’s famed Pittsburgh Cycle, this is a slice of life play conveying the realities of African-American experiences at that time.  Though this family doesn’t have much in the way of material things, they have nonetheless carved out a place for themselves to get by. Racial realities are in the mix- in this play, as in life.

Troy Maxson, the leading man played by David Alan Anderson, is the central force that our other characters orbit around. He’s gruff and harsh when confronted and feels a need to claim his place as the center of the household. But when he’s joking with Bono or reminiscing about his past glory days, we’re right there enjoying those moments with him.

Karen Aldridge as Troy’s wife gives an especially stellar performance, in this writer’s opinion.  We see her transform from a loving and caring wife to claiming her personhood. As she delivers her impassioned speech to Troy in the second act, we see just how much she has settled for in order to keep her place in the world.

Jamal James and Yao Dogbe portray Troy’s sons—and  show us the hope of the next generation.  They each are pursuing their respective dreams of becoming a musician and a football player.

Though everyone in the family seems to lose a piece of themselves in their relationships with Troy, they all come together and make their peace with him by the end.  This reconciliation is the soul of the story.

Read the full Review Here!