I was supremely lucky to acquire a ticket for the revival of August Wilson's "Fences" at the venerable Cort Theater in New York City. The classic Broadway play made me remember why I fell in love with the theater all of those years ago.
Denzel Washington and Viola Davis are superb in the starring roles, and the rest of the cast is splendid. Washington radiates power in the dynamic role of Troy Maxson, first made famous by James Earl Jones. As John Lahr said in The New Yorker, the audience at first loves him as a star, but in the end admires him as an actor. Viola Davis as the sensual, giving, heartbroken Rose gives one of the all-time great Broadway performances. Also marvelous are Stephen McKinley Henderson, Russell Hornsby, Mykelti Williamson, and Chris Chalk. The young Eden-Duncan Smith captivated my heart as the little girl Raynell.
As the performance kept delivering higher and higher levels of dramatic power, I found my admiration soaring for director Kenny Leon, one of Atlanta's artistic treasures. Leon understands the play's subtleties, and the actors are perfectly attuned. The set by Santo Loquasto was breathtaking, and Branford Marsalis' bluesy music captured the mood of the 1950s black culture in Pittsburgh.
Towering above all was August Wilson's script. Regrettably, I'd never before read or seen any of his work, although I was aware of his stature. The play, full of wonderful lines, unexpected turns, and finely modulated plot elements, was that of a master artist. I'm looking forward to immersing myself deeply in his work.