Saturday, January 30, 2010

Fences

I have a 5 play subscription to SCR, and I enjoy going to the plays. However, it has not escaped my attention that the choices the theater management generally makes are safe, boring, often mediocre plays. Maybe it is because of the thoroughly white bread, middle class nature of the OC that this occurs. Whatever the reason, it is only occasionally that they step out of this safety zone and put on a really powerful work.
Today, I have seen an exception to that rule, a production of August Wilson's play, Fences. I have certainly known of Wilson, but I have never read or seen one of his plays. It seems I have been missing a lot, and I plan to remedy that as soon as possible, as far as reading all of them goes.
From the moment I laid eyes on the set, which was an amazing evocation of a rundown urban landscape, with just a patch of hopeful blue sky hovering out of reach, I sensed I was in for something other than the norm.
The dialogue was raw at times, and I could see the audience squirming in its seats. But the acting was absolutely first rate, just about all of it, even the over-the-top part of Gabe, the brain injured, hallucinating brother of the main character, was convincing. But it was particularly the part of Troy, that main character himself, that was hard to get one's arms around.
This is a difficult, complicated character. hard to understand and possibly off-putting, but the actor who played him here gave us a feeling of 3 dimensionality, a feeling that we could understand what made him the way he was. And the role of his wife, Rose, was also beautifully modulated.
I count this as a red letter day, which introduced me to a playwright I should know and teach to my classes in the future. If there are still seats to be had, go and see the play, while it is still here.

2 comments:

Lou said...

I bristle at narrow depictions of OC, but I am glad you enjoyed the play. The Piano Lesson is my favorite of his.

Robbi said...

Well Lou, you know I love it here and want to stay. But you have to admit that there's a certain conservatism among many of the populace. Actually, you could have said the same of the neighborhood where I grew up, though it was in a big city. It was far worse in that respect, actually. And, overall, the ethnic diversity of this place is greater, as is the racial and ethnic acceptance, than the whole of the metropolis of Philadelphia.