Fences | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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This play, set in 1957 in Pittsburgh, features some of the tightest, most insightful writing in August Wilson's ten-work cycle on 20th-century African-American life. It's anyone's guess why it hasn't been done here professionally since the Goodman Theatre hosted a pre-Broadway tryout in 1986. In a legendary performance, James Earl Jones played Troy Maxson, the embittered ex-Negro League ballplayer-turned-garbage-collector at the heart of the story. Now longtime Chicago actor A.C. Smith smacks it out of the park in this Court Theatre revival, beautifully directed by Ron OJ Parson. The play is often compared to Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, but Smith's Troy is no broken-down Willy Loman; instead he's a man who fights so hard for respect that he risks losing his wife and son. Jacqueline Williams goes toe-to-toe with Smith as Troy's wife, Rose, a woman who loves him fiercely but is never a doormat. Don't risk waiting another 20 years to savor this work's riches. Through 2/12: Wed-Thu 7:30 PM, Fri 8 PM, Sat 3 and 8 PM, Sun 2:30 and 7:30 PM, Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis, 773-753-4472, $35-$50.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Brosilow.

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