A worthy final act for a theatrical giant
Director Kenny Leon permits the top-tier cast of 'Radio Golf' enough natural spontaneity to share the characters' life-changing realization.
When Harmond Wilks launches his 1997 campaign to become Pittsburgh's first black mayor, his slogan is "Hold Me To It!" This declaration of commitment applies equally to the creation of "Radio Golf," the final entry in the late August Wilson's 10-play cycle about life during each decade of the 20th century in that city's African-American Hill District. In this deceptively simple saga, conflicting ambitions clash as old schoolmates and new business partners team up to tear down a block of buildings to install a housing/shopping mall complex. The holdout? Wiry, tale-spinning codger Elder Joseph, who lays claim to the weather-beaten mansion at 1839 Wylie, fabled residence of Aunt Ester, the district's spiritual guardian. As Wilks (Harry Lennix) and his partner, Roosevelt Hicks (James A. Williams), get drawn in by Elder Joseph (Anthony Chisholm) to the moral – and legal – upheavals the proposed demolition unearths, Wilson shows that every political, strategic, or financial decision provokes its own question of integrity. The straight-talking handyman played by Sterling Johnson hammers home the message of Wilson's plays: "You ain't got to study up on right and wrong." Director Kenny Leon permits a top-tier cast enough natural spontaneity to share these characters' unexpected laughter and life-changing realizations. It's a worthy final act of a theatrical giant.