Updated: 8/16/15; 18:43:50

pedantic nuthatch
Life in a Northern Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. B.M.A.T.C., and Etruscan typewriter erasers. Blogged by David Gorsline.

Wednesday, 14 April 2004

Fences, by August Wilson, directed by Thomas W. Jones II, Round House Theatre, Bethesda, Maryland

Troy Maxon, the protagonist of August Wilson's inter-generational drama Fences, is one of the most charismatic characters of 20th-century American theater. He is powerful, musical, lusty, severely bitter, jocular, and possessed of a deep sense of family responsibility. Bull-necked Hassan El-Amin gives a fine reading for RHT. However, the expositional passage late in the first act, in which he explains how he came by his son Lyons early and by baseball late, feels a bit rushed.

Director Jones might be guilty of gilding the lily when he brings Troy downstage for this "I do the best I can do" monologue, but it's still a strong moment. One hears reverberations in David Mamet's character Teach (American Buffalo) who says, "I'm out there every day."

Troy is also Wilson's answer to Arthur Miller's Willy Loman, who prized being well-liked. Troy tells his son Cory (Lance Coadie Williams) that it's not important that people like you, but rather that they should do right by you.

In this production, we're left at the end of Troy's last scene feeling somewhat unfulfilled, that this isn't yet the tragic end for Troy. Could it be that the stage fighting between Troy and Cory, weaving around Troy's newly-completed fence, looks tentative?

The coda doesn't sit quite right either, but when Cory breaks into song, his father's favorite blues holler, it's a fitting elegy.

Round House designers seemed to have discovered the secret of filling the large Bethesda space: put a house on stage, as they did for The Cherry Orchard and The Drawer Boy. If it's two stories, as it is in Daniel Conway's meticulously executed Pittsburgh brick row house, so much the better. Check out the power lines that extend from the functional utility pole out into the auditorium house right.

posted: 11:56:40 PM  

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