EXCERPTS FROM THE REVIEW
The following are excerpts from the November 3, 2015 DC Theatre Scene Review of Fences by Jayne Blanchard
That was before Everyman’s majestic production, which brings Wilson’s words to life the way they were meant to–with passion, conviction, earthy humor and marrow-deep emotion. Director Clinton Turner Davis and an exceptional cast turn what I always brushed off as a character study of a bitter womanizer who hammers away at his family and friends the same way he pounds nails into the backyard fence he’s building for his wife into something at once epic and intimate.
This warm, embracing production draws you into Wilson’s distinctive riffing conversations and grand speeches as if you’ve been invited onto the Maxson’s back porch in late 1950s Pittsburgh to pull up a chair and sit awhile.
Wilson’s jazz-fueled poetry captures working class people living for the weekend with the richness of a Romare Bearden painting—all movement and color and keen detail. This richness is very much present in Everyman’s production, with director Davis heightening both the naturalness and larger-than-life aspects of the play.
In a play loaded with men’s talk, which ebbs and flows as naturally as a river, you are struck in this staging by the fierce beauty of the speeches he gives women. Wilson’s plays seem masculine and concerned with man business, but it’s plain to see he loved women. You only have to hear Rose’s reaction to Troy’s confession—she’s angry, mournful, shocked and proud—and the way she tells Cory the truth about his father with great love and brutal honesty for evidence of that.
In the end, it is the damaged Gabriel who gives Troy his due. When his brass horn proves ineffectual, Gabriel unleashes an unearthly cry to heaven. Attention must be paid, as we imagine Troy Maxson swinging his way into heaven.