August Wilson’s Fences is currently playing at McCarter Theatre under the direction of Tony Award-winner Phylicia Rashad. This powerful Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning play tells the story of an African-American family living in Pittsburgh during the civil rights movement.
The plot goes beyond that. It is about a man’s dreams, his obligations to his family, a loyal friend, the love of a supportive wife, and a mid-life crisis.
The play opens with Troy Maxson (Esau Pritchett) discussing his aspirations of having the same opportunity as white workers with his sidekick Bono (Phil McGlaston). He also brings up how he could have been in the major leagues if it were not for the color of his skin, but Bono insists it was because he was too old. Troy’s rapid dialog and their colloquialisms quickly immerse the audience into their world. It feels like you are eavesdropping in on their conversations instead of being in the audience.
Troy is loved by his faithful wife Rose (Portia). They met after he served time in prison, where he befriended his confidante Bono. Rose manages the household and keeps the peace in the family. Her laid back demeanor is a soothing contrast to her husband’s larger than life personality.
Their son Cory (Chris Myers), is trying to find his place in the world and get recognition from his father. When his father doesn’t get the respect he believes he deserves, he demands it. The high schooler complies, but as time passes, he finds the courage to challenge his father.
Rounding out the cast are his oldest son Lyons (Jared McNeill), who was born before his father’s stint in prison and raised by Troy’s ex-wife, his war-injured younger brother Gabriel (G. Alverez Reid), who he believes he is an Archangel, and the adorable Raynell (Taylor Dior).
This is an extraordinary cast to back up an extraordinary piece of mid-century literature, and the directed by Rashad of equal strength. Essau Pritchett hits it out of the park, just like his character brags about, making this production is one of the most captivating to date. I HIGHLY recommend Fences!
Due to popular demand, the show has been extended through February 16th, so if you have not already purchased tickets, do it NOW before they sell out. Fences is playing in the Berlind Theatre of McCarter, which is more intimate, and really immerses you in the drama.
The run time is 2 hours and 25 minutes with one 15 minute intermission. I would not recommend this play for younger children.
Please note, construction continues around McCarter for Princeton University’s Arts & Transit project. This will have an impact on parking and traffic. Check here for parking updates.