August Wilson (1945-2005), the great African-American playwright, is up there with Eugene O’Neill, Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller. He wrote a cycle of award-winning plays, which chronicled the American-Black man’s experience in the twentieth century, one play for each decade, an amazing and unique achievement.
Fences, his first big, award-wining success, which premiered in 1987 with James Earl Jones, is set in the 1950’s. Troy Maxson, a former Negro League baseball star, is now earning a living as a garbage man in Pittsburg. Gifted black players in the 1930’s had no chance of getting into the Major League and making sport their career.
53-year-old Maxson has serious flaws in his character which alienate him from his family and society. He is unfaithful, fathering a daughter, whose mother dies in childbirth. He stops his youngest son having a career in football, which would lead to a university scholarship because he fears he will suffer the same fate as himself. He commits his brain-damaged brother, a war veteran, to hospital and pockets half the money
There are two moments when his behavior audibly shocks the audience. The first is when he tries to justify his having a mistress to his wife who has been faithful to him and stood by him when he went to jail. The second is when he asks his son to tell him by what rule book it says he has to like him.
Lenny Harry made a remarkable transition from stand-up comedian to straight actor in his impressive debut playing Othello. He now follows this up with another taxing role, which he acts with tremendous power and confidence. The family drama grips.
There are good suport all round: from Tanya Moodie as his wife, from Colin McFarlane as his best friend, from Ashley Zhangazha as his youngest son, from Peter Bankole as his eldest son and from Terence Maynard as the war veteran who has the play's most potent symbol when he blows his trumpet to warn Saint Peter of his dead brother’s arrival at the pearly gates and the trumpet produces no sound whatsoever.
Paulette Randall’s production is the sixth August Wilson play she has directed. I came out of the theatre, hoping that one day soon it will be possible to see all ten plays as a cycle in chronological order.
Fences is at Richmond, Surrey, this week and will visit Milton Keynes, Oxford, Mold, Malvern and Cambridge.
Robert Tanitch reviews Fences at Duchess Theatre - 01 July 2013
Campaigns & Issues
Oldest old ‘not a drain on society’
ILC-UK responds to 2011 Census data on the oldest old published today
David Sinclair, Assistant Director, Policy and Communications at ILC-UK, responding to the results, said:
"This new evidence reveals that 8.8% for those aged over 85 are still caring for someone. And half of these older carers are providing support for more than 50 hours a week.
A smart move!
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Our half a million readers can already benefit from breaking news, views, features and competitions on the Mature Times website, Twitter feed and Facebook page.
You can use the Mature Times app to read our paper from cover to cover at a time and place that is convenient to you - meaning you'll never miss out on an issue - and it's free!
Competitions & Fun
Fairytale of New York voted top Christmas driving song!
With the festive season fast approaching and Christmas songs becoming a daily feature of radio station playlists, a 1st Central Insurance survey reveals The Pogues' Fairytale of New York is the nation's favourite Christmas song to drive along to.
Whilst drivers surveyed found the radio the least distracting in-car activity compared to mobile phones, children, satellite-navigation systems and chatting to passengers; 1st Central is cautioning motorists to remain focussed whilst behind the wheel this festive season.
Win one of 31 fabulous travel treats from Silver Travel Advisor this December
Enter now and you could win one of the 31 travel treats from our Christmas Stocking.
Silver Travel Advisor is a friendly website packed with advice, tips, information and honest reviews written by and for silver travellers (aged over 50). A team of advisors are on hand to answer queries (for free), and you can share your own experiences too.
Health & Wellbeing
The battle against dementia should focus on the benefits of a Mediterranean diet
In an open letter to the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, experts said persuading people to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, nuts, fish and olive oil was a strong strategy for preventing Alzheimer’s.
They argued that the tactic for fighting memory-robbing diseases was "possibly the best strategy currently available", ahead of drugs.
The medics insisted that numerous high-quality studies back their call, but claimed that "compelling" evidence has largely been ignored.
Property & Finance
Annuities: time for regulatory change
The Financial Services Consumer Panel today publishes the findings of its research into the consumer experience of purchasing an annuity, which shows that the market does not work well for the majority of consumers.
The Panel recommends urgent regulatory and government-led structural reform in order to prevent millions of pensioners from losing out.
The Panel’s extensive 12-month study, which included a literature review and three separate pieces of independent research, uncovered evidence of a complex market which is failing to deliver good outcomes for many consumers.
Leisure and Lifestyle
Joyce Glasser reviews Frozen
Frozen is seasonal, family entertainment at its best with Executive Producer John Lasseter (UP, The Incredibles, Ratatouille, Brave) working his magic once again. This combination of romantic comedy and musical adventure story was inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s 1845 fable, The Snow Queen and features, at its core, an unusual, schmaltz-free sisterly bond.
That might be because the film is co-directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, with Lee, the first female director of animation in Disney’s history, in charge of the script. It’s hard to imagine any demographic that won’t be drawn to its varied characters, settings, and superb 3D animation, not to mention its wise messages and music.
We've got money to spend and an appetite for adventure...
Holidays are for people with lean, tanned bodies. For twentysomethings with wires in their ears and huge bags on their backs.
For thirtysomethings with kids towing irritating 'Trunkies' across crowded arrivals halls. Or for fortysomethings in family groups talking loudly in ra-ra voices on the transfer bus, as if the rest of us don’t exist.
Holidays are also for people like me. That is, the over 50s, who make up 43 per cent of the population.
I have received a copy of you paper from our Community Centre for the last two years and really look foreword to reading it. Thank you!