"FENCES:" AN AWESOME PRODUCTION AT LONG WHARF

BONNIE GOLDBERG

Traditionally fences are built to keep something inside or to prevent someone outside from getting inside its boundaries. For Rose Maxson, it's the hope that her family will be kept safe and protected and for her husband Troy of eighteen years, the fence is to ward off the specter of death.

To see an astonishing production of August Wilson's involving family drama "Fences," take your carpenter's tool box and head for Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven by Sunday, December 22. "Fences" is part of an amazing ten part cycle, the Century Cycle, with one play for every decade of the 20th century, about African-Americans living in August Wilson's hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. "Fences" is set in the 1950's.

Esau Pritchett is magnificently flawed as Troy, a man whose ancestors were slaves and sharecroppers, who literally left his humble beginnings in the South, to walk North for a better life. A long stint in prison where he learns to hone his talent for baseball and his meeting with a strong and dedicated woman Rose were both defining moments in his life.

Rose, beautifully captured by the actress Portia, knows what it means to "stand by your man." She is loyal and the sturdy bridge between Troy and the world. As Troy, the everyman,who works as a garbage man providing for his family, he holds his little universe together, with the knowledge that Rose is standing beside him. Whether he is loaning his son Lyons (Jared McNeill) ten dollars, helping his disabled brother Gabriel (G.Alverez Reid) live on his own or share a bottle of bourbon with his best friend Bono (Phil McGlaston), Rose is ready to support him.

When Troy actively interferes with their son Cory's (Chris Myers) dreams of being a football star, Rose protests. Later when she learns of Troy's betrayal of infidelity, she rebels. Yet she relents and asserts her maternal instincts and takes his illegitimate child, an adorable Taylor Dior, into their home. Phylicia Rashad directs a sterling cast in an awesome production that defines theater at its best. Bravo!

For tickets ($40-75), call Long Wharf Theatre, 222 Sargent Drive, New Haven at 203-787-4282 or online at www.longwharf.org. ; Performances are Tuesday at 7 p.m., Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Thursday at 8 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Bring a new, unwrapped toy for the theater's Toys for Tots drive for needy children, organized by the Marines, until Sunday, December 22.

Come meet Troy Maxson, the consummate story teller, who lives in the past and what could have been, and tragically allows that past to dictate his son Cory's future.

 

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