The final play in August Wilson’s “Century Cycle,” Radio Golf, set
in the 1990s, is a story about a little guy trying to survive the American
political machine without having his morals ground to a pulp. Allen
Gillmore expertly heads up Court Theatre’s five-person powerhouse ensemble
as Harmond Wilks, an optimistic real estate developer running to become
Pittsburgh’s first black mayor.
Director Ron OJ Parson sets this examination of black upward mobility and
class against a toe-tapping soundtrack that evokes the feeling of a classic
sitcom with unusual gravitas. Alfred H. Wilson delights as eccentric
military veteran, Elder Joseph Barlow. Ann Joseph shines in a criminally
underwritten role as Mame Wilks, Harmond’s wife, wringing every drop of
pathos out of a cookie-cutter “stand by your man” scene.
James Vincent Meredith swaggers as Roosevelt Hicks, a ruthless businessman
with an impressive short game, and James T. Alfred charms as Sterling
Johnson, the underestimated voice of morality. Though Wilson’s broad-stroke
interrogation of economically moving up and selling out could stand more
nuance, the story of a fragile community yearning for a flawless savior to
beat the game with nothing more than his bare hands and idealism resonates
perhaps more painfully today than it did when it premiered in 2005.
feels like home to anyone who has had the pleasure of being intimately
involved in the African-American experience, and welcomes the rest of
America to peer through the window, feel the warmth and also perhaps catch
a glimpse their own reflection. v