BOTH SIDES OF THE FENCE
REVIEW: BROKEN FENCES
BY RYAN M. LUÉVANO
The Road Theatre Company continues its 2015-2016 25th anniversary season with the West Coast premiere of the play Broken Fences by Steven Simoncic. The play takes place in a neighborhood on Chicago’s deep West Side where gentrification driven by aggressive capitalism is forcing long-time residents out to make way for the upper middles class citizens. This essential premise certainly hits close to home, as Los Angeles goes through its own series of gentrifications in Echo Park and Downtown Los Angeles, however, Simoncic takes his play further touching upon society’s ever-present issues of race, identity, community, security, family and hope.
The Road Theatre Company’s production of Broken Fences is exceptional; it’s a smart and raw presentation that matches both the content and writer’s message. Director Andre Barron hits the mark with his clear and purposeful direction of the cast. There’s a delicate balance of actor intuition and order that makes for a presentation that is real and profound.
The sensory elements also add much to the telling of this story. The scenic design by John Lacovelli is a beautiful work of both craftsmanship and design—you get the perfect sense of place without seeming artificial. The lighting by Derrick McDaniel adds visual depth and focus to the drama especially in various monologues. The sound design by Joseph Slawinski offer a fantastic transitions between scenes and acts—the use of this spoken word and hip-hop sound bites orients audiences to what has happened and what is coming next.
Broken Fences is centered on two diverse couples: an African-American couple that is at risk for losing their home, Hoody (Bruce A Lemon Jr.) and D (Donna Simone Johnson); and the newly married white couple who moves in next-door, Czar (Coronado Romero) and April (Mia Fraboni). Each pairs of actors successfully work together to show us the dynamic of their individual relationships. Lemon and Johnson are the down-to earth and hot-blooded couple; and Romero and Fraboni are the insecure and worried couple. Within the course of the play each of these main characters delivers poignant monologues that reveal who they are as individuals—superb performances through and through.
Lemon offers one of the strongest performance as our protagonist; his monologue about being invisible is delivered with a raw sense of energy and focus. Marz (James Holloway), Hoody’s brother, upon entering the play bring powerful scenes playing the skillful foil to his brother. Esto (Ben Theobald) although a peripheral character, offer audiences satisfying comedic relief—he brings out the humor in his situation in a way that is relatable and honest.
Get over to see The Road Theatre Company’s production of Broken Fences playing at the beautiful NoHo Senior Arts Colony on Magnolia. These actors and this play deserve your attention, not only are the performances stellar, but since more than half of Angelenos are renters, and most of the rest are buying homes, this story could not be more relevant. Broken Fences runs through Sunday April 17th, for more information and tickets visit: www.roadtheatre.org.