Chicago Reader
Close

Court Theatre’s Radio Golf makes a rousing conclusion to August Wilson’s ‘Century Cycle’

It's a nail-biting mayoral race—in Pittsburgh.

Sheri Flanders Sep 11, 2018 17:00 PM

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.

Radio Golf 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

Related Stories