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My good friend,  Adam Crowe is guest reviewer of IRT’s newest offering:

Thanks again to Ken for allowing me some space on his blog. I am grateful that he trusts me to write about theater, and especially grateful that it has allowed me to see some wonderful theater that I might otherwise have missed. At the same time, I am sometimes sorry when Ken is unable to see something, knowing how much he loves the Theater. Tonight was one of those nights – when my feelings of good fortune were tinged with regret that Ken might miss Indiana Repertory Theatre’s masterful production of August Wilson’s Fences.

1_David Alan Anderson Marcus Naylor

David Alan Anderson and Marcus Naylor in IRT’s production of “Fences”.

August Wilson is, for me, the pre-eminent American playwright of the last quarter of the 20th Century. His body of work explores the African-American experience from 1904 through 1997, specifically life as it was experienced in the North (Wilson was from Pittsburgh). The ten plays that make up August Wilson’s Twentieth Century are varied and fascinating, with Fences being the best known and perhaps most accessible. Fences is Wilson’s story covering the post WWII experience – through the eyes of Troy Maxson, a garbage man who’s glory days – as a baseball player in the Negro Leagues – are decidedly behind him. Maxson was unable to make it to Major Leagues, and his pride, regret, and bitterness hang onto him like a second skin, both propelling and trapping him. Wilson, telling these stories of Black America, succeeds in capturing experiences relatable to all. In Troy’s story, we see human accomplishment and loss and how those emotions entangle Troy with his wife, sons, brother, and friends in ways recognizable to every audience.

1_David Alan Anderson Kim Staunton

David Alan Anderson and Kim Staunton in IRT’s production of “Fences”.

The winner of the 1987 Tony Award for Best New Play, along with that year’s Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Fences cannot succeed without a powerful actor at its core, and IRT has wisely handed those duties to David Alan Anderson. Whether as a leading (The Whipping Man) or supporting (Radio Golf) player, Anderson is always compelling. Here, you can’t take your eyes off of him. He is frequently a fascinating whirl of motion, laughing or re-telling old stories. But it is in his quieter moments that Anderson truly compels the audience’s attention – his face showing us every thought and emotion as they cascade inside him. The supporting cast is excellent, but Kim Staunton is exceptional as Rose Maxson. Rose is Troy’s equal, and Staunton matches Anderson every step of the way.

1_Kim Staunton Edgar Sanchez

Kim Staunton and Edgar Sanchez in IRT’s production of “Fences”.

Director Lou Bellamy, who’s most recent work at IRT was last Season’s brilliant “What I Learned In Paris”, is an expert interpreter of August Wilson. He has called this cast the “strongest I’ve had the pleasure of leading”. That relationship shines through onstage, as Bellamy and his actors tell Wilson’s story with every bit of the heart and heartbreak the author could have envisioned. In addition, the cast is blessed with costumes by Matthew Lefebvre and a scenic design by Vicki Smith. Both of these artists provide the actors with exceptional support.

1_Terry Bellamy Elise Benson

Terry Bellamy and Elise Benson in IRT’s production of “Fences”.

Do not miss the opportunity to see the work of a great American Playwright – as presented by an extraordinary Cast. August Wilson’s Fences continues its run through April 3rd. You can find out more about the schedule and reserve tickets by calling the Box Office at (317) 635-5252, or by going to the website at http://www.irtlive.com .

* – Photos by Zach Rosing