Despite a couple of strong performances in supporting roles and an attractive, compelling set, this production of August Wilson's play FENCES didn't do it for me. I don't like the play itself so much, and much prefer Wilson's MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM, which packs a punch. The fate of Troy Maxson and his family doesn't land on me. It seems more unfortunate than tragic. Troy Maxson is squeezed into a terribly small box by the limits set by white America, lack of education and having spent 15 years in jail prior to the start of the play, but I feel no sense of inevitability when the play seems to tell us that these conditions lead him to make terrible decisions that hurt his son and wife. I can certainly grasp Troy's fears for--and of--his son. But, I don't fully grasp his sexual betrayal of Rose, his wife. It doesn't seem justified by action, text, or backstory. It makes Troy merely pathetic, robbing him of nobility. At least, it does for me. He seems even weaker than Willie Loman, despite his physical strength.
The most compelling performance of the evening was Bono, played by Don Mayo, who was quiet and specific. Gabriel is hard to get wrong, so Ray Anthony Thomas was enjoyable in the part. Other performances seemed to wash out into swashing generalities. Troy Maxson has a lot to say--it's a mammoth part--and I found myself tiring of him more than once. One moment that seemed rushed was Troy's revelation to Rose of his betrayal. It didn't seem to land on her.
p.s. I find myself hoping that actors DON'T read their reviews. I don't think I'm going to read mine, any more, at least till the end of the run.