Blacks have made great strides in their struggle to gain equality and respect and they can be very proud of their achievements. Yet, the work is not complete. The attitudes of the mid-20th century can still shape the experiences they face today.
In “Fences” the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by August Wilson, the obstacles of this time are visible with heart-wrenching clarity. “Fences” takes place over several years beginning in 1957 and traces the life of Troy Maxson, a man conflicted about his inability to overcome the obstacles of his youth and certain about those that his children cannot.
The play, which is being staged by the Poteet Theatre, has an obvious lesson for the period but rough terrain remains in the present. Within the text of “Fences,” subtle lessons that still must be learned are visible and extremely important.
Showing great potential as a director, Tinasha LaRaye has assembled a terrific cast of talented actors who bring the characters in the Maxson circle of family and friends to life. As Troy Maxson, Brian C. Scott offers a performance that is powerful in its anguish.
Janice Francis Smith plays his wife Rose and her interpretation is soft and lovely, yet sometimes hard to hear.
Robert Jamerson, as their teenage son Cory, delineates the difference between what he must first overcome — his father — and what his father could not overcome distinctively.
KJ Rhodes, as eldest son Lyons, has an even more difficult task in developing the slight distinctions he faces and he carries his role with great aplomb. J. Lamont Thomas, as family friend Jim Bono, portrays his role with great sensitivity.
Josiah Overstreet plays Troy's brother Gabriel, who is disabled and confused from war injuries, with a wisdom all his own. Maya Banks is delightful as the young daughter Raynell.
Every actor displays flashes of brilliance that reach out to grab the audience and shake them from their complacency. Unfortunately, the characters do not mesh together well, which leaves gaps in the seams and gaping rents in the scenes.
Those gaps should mend naturally, however, LaRaye could help the process with a mid-week rehearsal for the sake of continuity. The hope in “Fences” should not be lost and with a little work regarding the flow, the play will have a great deal more relevancy. As expected, the Poteet sets are delightful and the technical presentation is flawless.
— Elizabeth Hurd