Fences (review)

Fences (review)
Fences (review)
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THE PLAY: This August Wilson drama revolves around a strict, restricted black father, who verbally bullies his wife and son, while ranting about his authority and significance.

 

THE PRODUCTION: While Wilson’s language transcends traditional dialogue, the father’s unsympathetic character makes the situations hard to handle. In that role, James Craven starts off as a dynamo, telling his stories with outsized charm. He gets the show off to a spirited start, but it loses some of that steam by intermission. Part of the fault lies in the play: Every scene extends too long, exchanging language and atmosphere for pace. As his wife, Lisa Strum never delves below her character’s surface to catch hold emotionally. Jamar Jones expands his versatility as the son, literally bounding about the stage. Horace E. Smith as Gabe is touchingly sweet. Director Tawnya Pettiford-Wates has allowed the leisurely scene changes to depict the passage of time. At 2:40, this is one area when a tighter pace might have helped. As the show runs on, the dramatic moments don’t always grab hold. Set designer Josafath Reynoso has created a scaled-down back yard surrounded by fences extending into the theatre. Running time: 2:40

 

THE POINT: This hard-working ensemble sometimes captures the soul of Wilson’s world, but falls short of the dramatic muscle that could have elevated this production.

 

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

 

At Virginia Rep thru 3/1

 

Joe Marshall, J. Ron Fleming Jr., James Craven (Photos by Jason Collins)

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