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'Fences' repetitive, predictable

Brilliant acting, good lighting help offset monotony

The Adobe Theatre's adaptation of a classic, racially-charged play was technically sound but fell painfully short in delivery.

The theater's production of August Wilson's classic play "Fences" is repetitive and borderline monotonous.

"Fences" emotional potential is stunted by dull staging and actors who continually strike the same set of emotional chords.

"Fences" is set in a 1950s black community. The play traces six pivotal months in the life of former Negro League Baseball star Troy Maxson, who is played by Michael Herndon.

Troy, now a disappointed sanitation worker, still suffers from the discrimination he encountered as a young black athlete in the 1930s.

Troy's pain and resentment spills over into family life when his 17-year-old son Cory begins to show considerable athletic prowess.

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Members of the Maxson family take sides when Troy decides to remove Cory from the school football team.

The plot and the staging revolve around Herndon's portrayal of Troy Maxson. Each scene is set up to end with a usually drunken Troy delivering a monologue at center stage. It works for the first few scenes. Herndon's strong delivery and natural mannerisms contribute to "Fences" most powerful moments.

Unfortunately, Herndon repeatedly employs the same angry, inebriated tone of voice and by the second act, Herndon's physical and emotional reactions are unbearably predictable.

Rosemary Thomas does a fine job portraying Troy's long-suffering wife, Rose. Thomas' acting debut is solid and speaks to her potential as an actress.

Thomas moves elegantly from loving wife to stoic and betrayed woman. Her character's growth throughout the play is remarkably believable and provides a welcome break from the monotony of the other performances.

Thomas clearly interacts with and reacts to the other characters. This is especially evident during the scene in which Troy reveals that he has fathered a child by another woman.

Roan Ruver Velasco stands out as Troy's mentally disabled brother, Gabriel. Velasco deftly handles his character's disabilities and delivers a genuine performance.

His characterization is consistent and hits every cue perfectly, particularly the final trumpet blowing sequence.

The set and lighting are particularly well done, especially given the Adobe Theatre's small size. The lighting is used to punctuate dramatic scenes.

For instance, the lighting during Gabriel's final monologue prevents a delicate piece of material regarding heaven from sinking into corniness.

The set - the Maxson family's front porch - works well with the mood of the play. Rough wooden benches and a clothesline indicate the Maxson's economic struggles. Even the screen door is appropriately squeaky.

"Fences" maintained some of its power in spite of the repetitive staging and single-emotion delivery.

The dialogue is revealing. The layers of the play are such that individuals of all ages and races are able to relate to some aspect of the Maxson's existence. Each of the actors clearly stretched themselves, though not quite enough.

"Fences" ran from Jan. 25 through Feb. 3 at the Adobe Theatre in Corrales. For more information about upcoming events, call 892-0697.

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