Let me just get this out of the way – Denzel Washington was outstanding. The very minute he walks onstage, he fills the theater with his presence and you just sit back and enjoy the ride he’s about to take you on.
Fences opened last night at Broadway’s Cort Theater for a limited run through July 11th and judging from the packed, enthusiastic audience I saw it with, this will be a hard show to get tickets to.
It stars Washington as Troy Maxson, a 53-year-old sanitation worker who once had aspirations of a career in baseball. Married to the devoted Rose (Viola Davis), their back and forth talk, mostly with sexual undertones make for a seemingly happy marriage. Mid way through the first act, his best friend, Bono (Stephen McKinely Henderson), begins to hint at some definite character flaws in Troy that come up in the second act; some shocking, some not.
The show was great and as I said before, Denzel (I’ll call him by his first name, sure) was incredible. The only problem I had – and I’m not sure you can even call it a problem – was the Denzel was so fantastic that he made everyone else look just good. Do you know what I mean? He raised the bar so high that everyone was trying to get to the same level that he was on. Sometimes they were there and sometimes they weren’t.
Viola Davis and Stephen McKinley Henderson were the definite stand-outs in the cast, although Viola seemed to underplay her role. It was as if she had a camera on her the whole time. If she were to star in the film version of this show, she’d have a sure nomination though.
The director Kenny Leon did a wonderful job. The show is set in 1957 yet the show didn’t feel dated at all.
The set by Santo Loquasto was so realistic that the producers might want to think about selling the house the Maxon’s live in for some kind of additional profit.
Cast: Denzel Washington, Viola Davis, Chris Chalk, Eden Duncan-Smith, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Russell Hornsby, SaCha Stewart-Coleman, Mykelti Williamson