Reviews of the 2013 British production of Fences focused mostly on Lenny Henry’s performance in the lead role, which attracted wide acclaim. Giles Broadbent from the Wharf said, “Lenny Henry is immense.” Charles Spencer from The Telegraph said of Henry, "He is, and I don’t use the word lightly, magnificent." Jane Shilling, also from the Telegraph said: "What you don’t expect is to find Henry entirely unrecognisable in the physically and morally immense character he embodies." Best of Theatre said: "You may love or loathe his comedy but it is impossible to deny Lenny Henry’s determination to become a serious actor of some note." Paul Taylor from The Independent said, “the performance cements Henry's status as a serious actor.” Henry Hitchings from the London Evening Standard said, "He’s on superb form". Simon Edge from the Express said, "Henry gives a perfectly controlled performance, combining physical poise with an armoury of carefully judged vocal ticks and facial mannerisms."
The play itself is noted for its challenging subject matter. Hitchings commented that "Fences is dense and unsettling. It’s brave to programme such a meaty, daunting piece during the summer months". Camilla Gurlter from A Younger Theatre described it as “very heavy and with its nearly three hours of lost hope and broken dreams it can feel long and depressing".