The SHSU theatre department’s latest show “Fences,” written by August Wilson is a great piece of American theatre and is sure to be an unforgettable experience for all audiences.
“Fences” is not only a great play for the SHSU theatre department to put on during Black History Month, but also a great show with which to start our spring semester. A compelling story filled with humor, tension and heartfelt moments, the cast gives an incredible and convincing performance.
The play tells the story of a black family living during the rise of the Civil Rights Movement. The play deals with several heavy themes including racial tension and struggles within the family unit. Throughout the show, the family finds a way to persevere through the hard times and renew a sense of hope amongst them.
Senior musical theatre major Andrew Carson plays Troy Maxson, the tough and prideful patriarch of the family determined to take care of his family. Carson gives an amazing performance as the middle-aged character. The voice and mannerisms that he takes on as Troy are beautifully done and extremely convincing. Carson was able to take the character of Troy, who was often harsh and slightly scary, and play him so passionately that the toughened character was never unlikable.
Musical theatre senior Maryann Williams plays Troy’s wife, Rose Maxson, an incredible voice of reason throughout the show. Williams portrays Rose as a loyal wife and mother who is extremely loving yet has an undeniable strength that is visible in multiple scenes as she fights for and defends her family. Williams is spunky and funny as Rose and the relationship she and Carson play as husband and wife is sweet and believable.
Senior theatre major Chris Akens plays Cory, the son of Troy and Rose, a high-spirited high school student who is desperate to live a life of purpose and excitement. Akens gives a fantastic performance as an energized and hopeful young man.
Possibly one of the most compelling and memorable aspects of the play was the relationship struggles between Troy and Cory, a father and son who do not see eye to eye. The moments between the two were suspenseful and completely engaging, no doubt due to the stellar performances given by Carson and Akens.
The cast also includes a variety of characters who pop in and out throughout the play, sometimes providing comic relief, other times bringing serious moments of intensity that present even more suspense and interest for the audience. Other characters in the show include: Jim Bono, Troy’s friend and coworker, humorously and convincingly played by theatre sophomore Camryn Nunley.
Lyons, Troy’s older son who he also has a strained relationship with, is played elegantly and believably by sophomore musical theatre major Chris King.
Gabriel, is Troy’s brother who has suffered a head injury and now believes he is an archangel played by freshman musical theatre major Zachary Willis. Willis plays Gabriel with humor and grace and provides some of the most touching moments of the play.
Associate chair and professor of theatre Tom Prior displays his exceptional directing ability with “Fences” as the cast worked together as an ensemble to completely immerse the audience in this beautifully tragic story.
With an incredibly beautiful and intricate set, this show is also pleasing to the eye. Scene transitions were performed seamlessly and quickly due to a top-notch crew who always made sure everything was where it needed to be.
Prior, his cast and crew have obviously put hard work into this show and their efforts were certainly rewarded with a fantastic production. ‘Fences’ is an absolute treat that not only entertains and amazes but also leaves you with many thoughts to reflect on and the desire to always be pushing and working towards a unified and accepting society.
‘Fences’ opened last night and will play through Feb. 21.