Earl Ofari Hutchinson's take on the politics of the day
“Fences” the sixth entry of the late playwright August Wilson’s (April 27, 1945-October 2, 2005) ten play cycle. Each cycle represents a decade of the 20th Century. Set in the 1950’s, the main character is Troy Maxson (played by Michael Sheppard), a 50 something man who makes his living as a sanitation worker. He has a wife Rose
(Karole Freeman) who despite the circumstances makes the best of what has been handed to her. They have a son Cory (Jermelle Simon) a dutiful son who is adored by his mother and resented by his father. There is Troy’s other son Lyons (Theo Perkins) from Troy’s previous marriage. Gabriel (Matt Orduña) a war veteran who came back with a psychological injury that causes him to hallucinate.There is of course Troy’s friend Jim Bono (Christopher Carrington) with whom he shares his hopes, dreams, and prejudices. There is also a little girl Raynell (Mma-Syrai Alek) fathered by Troy with the never seen Alberta, his girlfriend.
We discover early on why Troy is hard on his son Cory. Cory like his dad is athletically gifted. Unlike his dad, his future has unlimited opportunities. Troy in his youth had been a baseball player in the Negro Leagues. With the “gentleman’s agreement” in place, Troy never got a chance to display his ability in the Major Leagues. His son now has that chance with football. He can go to college, and perhaps play pro football.
We also see how Troy takes out his frustrations. He has a rope hanging with a baseball attached to a post on his house, where he hits it with a bat.
Perhaps dreaming of what never was.
Brilliantly directed by Greg T. Daniel, the play is beautifully done with a terrific and truthful portrayal of what life was like in the 1950’s for African Americans. Performances take place at the International City Theatre at the Long Beach Performing Arts Cener 300 E. Ocean Blvd in Long Beach, CA 90802. Performances run from Thursday through Saturday evenings at 8PM, with a matinee on Sunday at 2PM. The play is scheduled to close on September 13, 2015.
It should not be missed.