Theatre Review: Fences

Paulette Randall and Lenny Henry
Paulette Randall and Lenny Henry

Pioneering comedian, Comic Relief stalwart, Premier Inn promoter; Lenny Henry has recently added leading actor to his career achievements.

The 55-year-old is currently starring in a production of August Wilson’s Fences at Milton Keynes Theatre, following critically-acclaimed performances as Shakespeare’s Othello in the West End.

Wilson’s play tells the story of Troy Maxson, a refuse collector (or as the Americans call it, a garbage man), living in Pittsburgh in the 1950s.

After watching his ‘larger- than-life’ persona on Comic Relief last weekend, it was initially difficult for me to adjust to the ‘serious actor with a slightly iffy American accent’ version of the comedian.

But, mainly through long scenes of dialogue between Troy, his wife, Rose, and friend, Jim Bono, Henry does a good job of portraying the effects of Troy’s lifelong frustration that he was unable to play in the baseball major league due to the racism of team selectors.

With little action on stage throughout the play, the acting is required to be of the highest order to keep the audience’s attention and, for the most part, Henry and the rest of the cast achieve this difficult task.

Fences is showing until Saturday. To book tickets, go to