The American Blues Theater presents August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize-Winning production of Fences, directed by Monty Cole, July 1-August 6, 2022 at Theater Wit, 1229 W. Belmont Ave. in Chicago.
Fences is the sixth of the ten series of August Wilson’s tales, chronicling the struggles of African Americans in Pittsburgh. Fences, written in 1987, is the story of Troy Maxson, a hard-working sanitation worker. His bitterness from not being accepted as a baseball player in the major leagues creates a wedge between him and his family. His wife, Rose, is the epitome of unconditional love and sacrifice. Her passion for him is so strong that even though she hurts and feels betrayed, she never leaves his side. Forced to play the hand she’s dealt, she does what she feels is the right thing to do in light of the situation. Cory, Troy and Rose’s teenage son, is constantly battling with the notion that his father does not love him nor supports his dream of becoming a football player. Gabriel, Troy’s brother, sustained injuries in the armed forces, which led to his mental illness. Troy also deals with the guilt of using his brother’s money to support his family. Lyons is Troy’s oldest son from a previous marriage. Troy is just as unsupportive of Lyons’ dream of being a musician as Cory’s desire to play professional football. Bono is Troy’s co-worker and best friend. Bono is the one person who knows Troy better than he knows himself.
I had the pleasure of seeing the 2010 Broadway production of Fences, starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Monte Cole does a great job directing this compelling drama in this production version, which I consider August Wilson’s best play. The set is strategically staged in the center, making it more up close and personal. It feels as though you are at a family backyard gathering.
The overall performances of the actors were enjoyable. Kamal Angelo Bolden (Troy) does a phenomenal job. At times, his performance sounded as though Denzel Washington was playing Troy. Shanesia Davis (Rose) holds her own. “I been standing with you!” was the highlight of her moment. Kudos go to Ajax Dontavious (Cory), Martel Manning (Bono), Manny Buckley (Gabriel), William Rose (Lyons), and cute little Riley Wells (Raynell). To everyone – A job well done!
I highly recommend this production. It runs now through August 6, 2022. Purchase tickets online or call 773-975-8150.
Photos by Michael Brosilow