You’ve got until April 6 to see this regional premiere of August Wilson’s last play, Radio Golf. The first production since its Broadway run, this is the last play – the 1990’s – of Wilson’s Century Cyle – 10 plays on black America, one for each decade of the 20th century.
This story of an African American real estate developer running for Mayor of Pittsburgh, is true in every character, every line, every golf swing. For me, it is also true for most of what I know about the fields of real estate development, urban development and politics.
Two characters – Sterling Johnson and Elder Joseph Barlow – become a Greek chorus, echoing and expanding on the play’s themes, provoking much of the play’s action.
The acting by all concerned is great, played with a sure touch. Harmond Wilks, the wounded hero, his wife, Mame Wilks, with her own high-powered career, Roosevelt Hicks, the slick developer with his contacts and schemes. All exhibit the pain and risks of being black and talented in the 90’s.
The last half of the play is hard to watch, as everything comes tumbling down. The ending was a surprise, though on reflection, it fell the right way.
The gritty set, lots of humor and sideways wisdom, the attention to costumes and small touches – add depth and atmostphere to the production, which is definitely among the best I’ve seen at the Ensemble. Grab your ticket and get there!