Like his predecessors O’Neill and Arthur Miller, the late August Wilson never shied away from bombast; his “Fences” proves just as much as “The Iceman Cometh” or “Death of a Salesman” that great dramatic writing may not look subtle. The story of Troy Maxson, a onetime Negro League ballplayer who now hauls trash for a living, “Fences” delves into themes that could seem merely familiar (fathers and sons, the delicate balance of a long marriage) but that Wilson invests with a primal energy. Underneath it all throbs a low-level hum of American racism, rarely called out but omnipresent in its effects. Ron OJ Parson’s spirited production at the Court triumphs primarily because of the remarkable performances at its center. A. C. Smith plays Troy as an African-American Ralph Kramden: explosive, ebullient, thoroughly larger-than-life, and consumed by conflicting yearnings for adventure and stability. He has met his match entirely in Jacqueline Williams’s passionate Rose. Their second-act confrontation, after Troy confesses his impending fatherhood of another woman’s child, is simultaneously devastating and a glorious piece of work. The production is hampered somewhat by weaker performances in supporting roles: Anthony Fleming, in the pivotal part of Troy and Rose’s son Cory, never quite escapes mannerism. But Parson has put together a rousing, vibrant version of Wilson’s essential play. (John Beer)
This production is now closed.