FENCES
A Snapshot Review
by Luther Goins
January 16, 2017

Photo source: http://cdn.collider.com

Denzel Washington plays Troy Maxson and Viola Davis plays Rose Maxson in Fences from Paramount Pictures. Directed by Denzel Washington from a screenplay by August Wilson. Having seen the exquisite James Earl Jones and Mary Alice in the original Broadway production of Fences, and having thoroughly enjoyed numerous regional theatre productions, I was a bit leery of a film production of what stands out as August Wilson’s most celebrated stage play.

Thankfully, I understand, and accept, the power that follows admitting when you are wrong. Denzel Washington’s film production of FENCES gave me another opportunity to acknowledge this power. The film is nothing less than perfection.

His casting, direction, acting in a principle role; along with his extremely appropriate selection of outdoor and other locations for some scenes, presents a professional guide to excellent film making.

 

With Viola Davis…
you always take the journey. 

 

FENCES is the story of Troy Maxson, a mid-century Pittsburgh sanitation worker who once dreamed of a baseball career, but was too old when the major leagues began admitting black players. He tries to be a good husband and father, but his lost dream of glory eats at him, and causes him to make a decision that threatens to tear his family apart.

Troy’s older brother, Gabe Maxson, sustained a head injury in World War II that left him mentally impaired, for which he received a $3000 government payout that Troy (with much ongoing guilt) used to purchase a home for his family.

If his superb directing is not enough, Denzel Washington’s stunning (and hopefully) award-winning performance of Troy Maxson is not to be missed.  We have all become very familiar with Mr. Washington and his talents as an actor. So used to him…that we take him for granted.  It is a true honor to watch him work (as an actor) in this film.  His choices are dead on, his concentration and focus are flawless, and his determination to let us see and experience Troy Maxson is selfless and utterly amazing. Denzel Washington, the movie star and celebrity, quickly disappears and allows an absolutely amazing performance.

Viola Davis as always, defines acting and character development at its’ best.

Her portrayal of Rose Maxson, Troy’s wife, is not to be missed. She gloriously, and proudly, shows us the strength that women have. The strength that keeps the day-to-day emotional struggles from consuming her. She reminds us that women do this on a daily basis.

 

True, solid, and excellent story telling
is about the all of us…
and the human condition.

 

When we, the regular person, puts down $8.00 to $10.00 for a movie ticket, it’s nice to recognize that your money has been well spent. With Viola Davis, you quickly celebrate the fact that you are in talented and capable hands. With Viola Davis…you always take the journey.

If a wonderful script/screenplay and stunning performances by Denzel Washington and Viola Davis is not enough, stand by.  Mykelti Williamson’s performance of the troubled Gabriel Maxson (Uncle Gabe) is moment-to-moment, honest, refreshing, exciting, and brilliant all at once.  He will quietly break (and steal) your heart.  His portrayal of Uncle Gabe clearly stands out as one of the best performances of 2016.

The remainder of this highly appropriate, and extremely talented cast, is spectacular. Stephen McKinley Henderson as Jim Bono, Jovan Adepo as Cory Maxson, Russell Hornsby as Lyons Maxson, and Saniyya Sidney as Raynell Maxson.  They present a masterclass of superb acting.  All together, they remind us that a good play (and a good film) is about ensemble work; about breathing truth; about listening; and about reacting.  BRAVO!

Denzel Washington’s film production of this August Wilson’s masterpiece reminds us that true, solid, and excellent story telling is not about a certain type of person, not about a place, a time, a color, or a nationality.  True, solid, and excellent story telling is about the all of us…and the human condition. August Wilson would have loved this movie.

 

Don’t miss FENCES.

 

____________________

About LUTHER GOINS
(Producer, Director, Playwright)
 After working extensively in Cincinnati as a producer, director, and acting instructor, Luther re-located to Chicago.  He worked as the Assistant to the Producer at the Skokie-based Northlight Theatre. While at Northlight, Luther also held the position of Resident Artistic Director at the African-American based Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre in Evanston, IL. In 1995, he accepted the Managing Director position for the Chicago Theatre Company (another African-American company) located on Chicago’s south side. After many exciting discussions about the opportunities to work directly with the minority membership, Luther accepted a Union Representative position in the Chicago office of Actors’ Equity Association. In 2001, LOVE CHILD, his first play, received a Jeff Citation for “Best New Work”; two Chicago After Dark Awards “Best New Work” and “Best Ensemble”. In 2002, another production of LOVE CHILD received the Chicago African-American Arts Alliance Award for “Best New Play”; and the Cincinnati Entertainment Award for “Best Local Premiere for 2002.” LOVE CHILD, which made its debut in January 2001 at Chicago’s Live Bait Theatre, has celebrated five productions across the country. Luther is happily married to Leon Schrauben, a Chicago Public Schools Teacher. Mr. Goins is currently working on BOY, a new play.