Fences might more aptly be titled Porches, as author August Wilson's characters spend much of the play sitting on a porch, swapping stories. Yet the script is so well written - with its raw, realistic dialogue and slice-of-life style - that it's not surprising that Wilson's drama won both the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1987 and the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Play just last month. And while Monday night's preview performance of the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's Fences wasn't quite at the award-worthy level, the production shouldn't be overlooked when planning a night at the theatre.

Xavier Marshall and Curtis Lewis in A Raisin in the Sun"Literally thousands of people have come through this building to perform on our stage," says Craig Michaels, past president of the Playcrafters Barn Theatre's board of directors. "But without demeaning or belittling any of the work that's been done here over the years, I was finding that I didn't feel the entire community was properly represented within our building, both on our stage and behind the scenes."

The Nerd at Playcrafters Barn Theatre Through September 25

As the lights come up on Playcrafters' production of Larry Shue's The Nerd, we find ourselves in the Terre Haute, Indiana, living room of architect Willum Cubbert (Josh Kahn), whose pseudo-girlfriend, Tansy (Jessica Nicol), and drama-critic friend, Axel (Chris White), are throwing him a surprise birthday party. For about 20 minutes, the three characters chat, and all the while, the light from the evening sky - seen through Willum's living-room windows in the rear of the stage - is going through the most amazing transformation. The reddish-pink hues from outside begin to subtly shift to a lovely magenta, and within time, they will have morphed into a deep, midnight blue with a hint of purple; it's a beautiful, subtle effect, well-achieved by designer Jennifer Kingry.