Review / ‘Fences’ (PG) *** and a half

WALKING between adjacent cinemas in the same multiplex, burdened by the dissatisfaction generated by “Fifty Shades…”, I dared hope that “Fences” might give me a lift.

And it was indeed so. The late Afro-American playwright August Wilson won his first Pulitzer Prize with it in 1987 and went on to win a second Pulitzer and nomination for four others.

Troy (Denzel Washington) and Bono (Stephen Henderson), friends since childhood, work emptying garbage cans into a Philadelphia city truck. Troy is married to Rose (Viola Davis), with whom he has a teenage son Cory (Jovan Adepo). His son Lyons (Russell Hornsby) from his first marriage is a musician who only calls by to borrow money.

This quartet of characters comprises the foundation of a formidable drama about being black in mid-twentieth-century America when only white men were allowed to play professional baseball. Troy rankles at this humiliation, which has kept him impoverished.

In the house, Rose goes about domestic duties without complaint.

Having played Troy and Rose in a 2010 Broadway revival, Washington and Davis know it thoroughly.

Dramatically powerful, emotionally turbulent, Wilson’s play examines Troy and Rose’s relationship in detail. With Todd Black and Scott Rudin, Denzel Washington is a co-nominee for best film Oscar. Viola Davis’ nomination for best supporting actress Oscar undervalues her performance – she is nothing short of superb in the principal female role.

Go to see “Fences” with little foreknowledge or expectations, as I did. What I found says much that even today resonates powerfully.

At Dendy, Palace Electric and Capitol 6

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