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BWW Review: August Wilson's FENCES Enchants at Sacramento Theatre Company

This production runs through March 13.

BWW Review: August Wilson's FENCES Enchants at Sacramento Theatre Company

Fence (fens) n. 1. A structure that functions as a boundary or barrier, usually constructed of posts, boards, wire, or rails. Or, as in August Wilson's Fences, it can also be an allegory to keep the things out that you fear the most while locking all that is precious within its confines. Is it ever successful? Sacramento Theatre Company (STC) welcomes you back to the Main Stage to explore that question with their production of the Tony Award winning play.

Fences centers around the life of Troy Maxson, a Philadelphia garbage collector, in 1957. STC alum (When We Were Colored) Michael J. Asberry paints a formidable figure as Troy-a powerful, bitter survivor who was born too early to reap the benefits of a changing world. From leaving his abusive home as a teen to serving a stint in prison and moving to the Negro Leagues before taking on the injustices of the sanitation world, Troy Maxson wastes no time in telling everyone the challenges that he has faced from the moment he was born. In this, Wilson successfully conveys the trials of the African American male in America; however, Asberry's expert interpretation of Troy's abrasiveness and rigidity makes him a difficult figure to sympathize with.

Troy's beleaguered wife, Rose (Cathleen Riddley), and teenage son, Cory (J'cyn Crawley), are the collateral damage of his controlling tunnel vision. His betrayal of both leads Rose to lament all the years she spent with him while losing herself along the way, "I planted myself inside you and waited for it to bloom!" His eldest, Lyons (Sincee J. Daniels), escaped growing up under his iron fist but spends his adult life trying to win Troy's approval and acceptance. Even Troy's best friend, Bono (Tory Scroggins), eventually grows weary of the idolatry he has given someone who has proven himself to be only human.

The one person always in Troy's corner is his brother, Gabe. Played by Anthony M. Person, Gabe is the fascinating standout of the show, bringing Wilson's signature supernatural elements to life as a symbolic heralding archangel. Wounded in the war, Gabe spends his days wandering about the neighborhood and chasing hellhounds while summoning St. Peter on Troy's behalf. He and Troy's young daughter, Raynell (played that evening by the adorable Myah Fisher) are beautifully innocent and incapable of recognizing the complexities of the Troy that they love.

STC's interpretation of Fences, directed by James Wheatley, is an important and timely look into the African American experience. So many things have changed, but too many remain the same. As Troy would say, STC is batting a thousand at putting out thought-provoking pieces performed by top-notch talent. I'm grateful for the experience.

Fences plays at Sacramento Theatre Company through March 13. For more information, please visit or call (916) 443-6722.

Photo credit: Cindy Lawton

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