“Fences” is a play that was written by August Wilson in 1983 but the setting of the play reflects 30 years before it was written (Bradshaw, 2017). The play is about families of lower-middle-class African Americans residing in Pittsburgh in 1950 (Bradshaw, 2017). “Fences” explore family matters among the blacks and racism among the issues that blacks are going through. This paper will provide a critique and support the thesis that Black American “Fences” production is premised mainly in a backyard and a kitchen in a black American home at Pittsburgh (Bradshaw, 2017). This play is unique in the sense that most domestic tragedies are happening within a homestead but explores a bigger picture of how lower-middle-class blacks live with their families. The play is also unique because it seems boring but its flow and the reflection it exposes about family matters are worth watching. This critique will support the thesis that family matters and domestic tragedies exposed by Washington’s performance and the production style in the ‘Fences’ reflect what happens in real life among the Black American families of the lower-middle class in the United States.
The production of the movie “Fences” is designed to reflect the picture of families during the mid-1950s showing that the producer had a big history about family life during the 1950s (Bradshaw, 2017). The design of the dress code and the setting of the house prove that history was at stake in the play. For instance, the house where Troy together with his family resides is small and the walls are made of bricks (Washington, 2016). The space in the house makes one question; how the shooting was done-may be through the window?
To make the setting more real in the black American family setting the producer made sure that most of the narrations are made with a lot of sorrows that could raise emotions among the audience. The narrations during the acting lead to emotional distress showing how the producer was prepared to move the audience with words. Denzel Washington says that “I have been standing in the same place for eighteen years” with a lot of sorrow making his counterparts to go down in tears” (Washington, 2016). This shows how Blacks are stagnant in terms of what they do to make a living. This kind of acting shows that a lot of frustrations and families quarreling every day due to poverty.
The production choices are mainly clean dialogue which means the producer is more of the story that visual effects. For example, when the performance commences, the audience cannot see any action sequences, no sound or music, and no visual effect which means the producer intended to maximize the dialogue (Washington, 2016). This is an indication that the audience is connected to the story than any other movie effect. The audience, therefore, needs to hear and internalize how the Blacks families lived in sorrow and where quarrels were part of their conversation.
The producer did a good job by setting the play to reflect the life of black families in the 1950s. The movie “Fences” explores family matters and domestic tragedies within the Blacks through narrative and emotional conversations that are touching to the audience. This reflection makes the movie more interesting and keeps the audience inclined to the flow until the end. However, the producer could have compared the family life of the blacks and those of the Whites for the movies to be more lively and intense.
- Bradshaw, P. (2017). Fences review – Denzel Washington steps up to the plate. The Guardian Weekly. https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/feb/09/fences-review-denzel-washington-viola-davis
- Washington, D. (2016) Denzel Washington, Viola Davis Drama Movie HD. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jj-ZYPVRQbc