Saturday, 21 April 2018

Henry the thespian comes to town

COMEDIAN Lenny Henry broke the mould when he took the role of Othello at the West Yorkshire Playhouse four years

COMEDIAN Lenny Henry broke the mould when he took the role of Othello at the West Yorkshire Playhouse four years ago, writes Lesley Potter.

In fact, his performance as Shakespeare’s Moor was greeted with so many favourable reviews that it transferred to the London stage.

Now the familiar face of Comic Relief is back on the boards, this time in a revival of award-winning play Fences by American playwright August Wilson. The touring production comes to the Oxford Playhouse for a week at the end of March, and a transfer to the West End is planned for later in the year.

Henry plays Troy Maxson, a 53-year-old who was once a gifted baseball player, but denied his turn at the big time, he now struggles through daily life, taking his frustrations out on a sports-obsessed son and his loyal wife. Fences is the sixth play in Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle. Set in the Fifties, it focuses on the emerging African-American experience and race relations.

The work won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a Tony Award for Best Play in 1987, and is regarded as one of American literature’s greatest dramas, in a similar mould to works by Arthur Miller and Eugene O’Neill.

Director Paulette Randall is a Bafta award nominee and was the associate director, working alongside Danny Boyle, for the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.

She is a former artistic director of black theatre company Talawa and has previously directed much of August Wilson’s work in the UK to great acclaim.

Fences runs at the Oxford Playhouse from Monday, March 25 to Saturday, March 30. Tickets start at £12.50 and are available from the box offic on 01865 305305 or book online at www.oxfordplayhouse.com

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