Henry stars in gritty drama

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Review: Fences at Milton Keynes Theatre.

COMEDIAN Lenny Henry takes on the lead role in this heart-breaking drama.

He plays baseball player Troy Maxson denied his shot at the big time and is now living in Pittsburgh.

Resentful of a world he believes has denied him chances at every turn, he takes out his anger on a sports-obsessed son and his loyal wife.

I’ll address my problem with the show first and that’s the language used.

While it is accurate and probably fairly representation of the times the show is trying to depict, the words spoken are grating and uncomfortable to the modern ear.

And it is an uncompromising and gritty tale which is at times hard to watch.

These things said, I do acknowledge that they contributes to setting the tone for the story.

At the very centre of this show is Henry, who dominates the stage with his presence throughout.

His character has many elements of light and shade. He loves his wife but still ends up causing her hurt. He wants his son to have a solid future, but obstructs him from making a better life for himself.

Henry plays it with utter conviction and when his world does collapse around him, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Troy, even though he is responsible for his own downfall.

August Wilson’s play though contains plenty of heartwarming moments. It’s incredibly well scripted and a well told story that tackles all its difficult issues head on.

If you are coming to this half expecting Henry’s comedic persona to shine through, then it’s going to disappoint. 
However, if you are looking for a hard-hitting realistic drama to get your teeth into then this will be for you.

Review by Steve Mills.

Fences plays until Saturday. For tickets, call the box office on 0844 871 7652 or visit www.atgtickets.co.uk/milton-keynes-theatre.