Fences – Review by Bonnie Goldberg

The poet Robert Frost always advocated that fences made good neighbors. Traditionally fences are built to keep something inside, like your children or pets, 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 devil and 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 West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park by Sunday, November 20. “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.

Jamil A. C. Mangan 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 Yvette Monique Clark, 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 (Nestor Garland) ten dollars, helping his disabled brother Gabriel (Daniel Danielson) live on his own or share a bottle of bourbon with his best friend Bono (Eric Carter), Rose is ready to support him.

When Troy actively interferes with their son Cory’s (Khalfani Louis ) 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 Sahana Arulampalam and Gibson Quinn), into their home. Kenney M. Green directs a sterling cast in an awesome production that defines theater at its best. Bravo!

For tickets ($45-55), call Playhouse on Park, 244 Park Road, West Hartford at 860-523-5900 ext. 10 or online at www.playhouseonoark.org. Performances are Tuesday at 2 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Masks are encouraged but not required.

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. “Fences” is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and two Tony Awards.

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