Radio Golf Review – When Ethics and Economics Collide

Christian Telesmar and DeJuan Christopher in RADIO GOLF - Photo by Craig Schwartz
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The final chapter in August Wilson’s extraordinary 10-play cycle exploring the Black experience in twentieth century America, RADIO GOLF     brings Wilson’s epic story from 1904, when it began, to 1997, nearly 100 years later and also the perfect cycle closing – where turn-of-the-century Aunt Ester’s legacy reaches from the past into the present. Also known as the Pittsburgh Cycle, nine of Wilson’s plays are set in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, where he grew up (one was set in Chicago). The recipient of multiple awards, including two Pulitzer Prizes, a Tony Award, and four New York Drama Critics Circle Awards, August Wilson was inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame in 2006. RADIO GOLF premiered on Broadway in 2007, two years after Wilson’s death.

Alex Morris and Christian Telemar – Photo by Craig Schwartz

Set in 1997 in Pittsburgh’s Hill District, university-educated attorney and real estate developer Harmond Wilks (Christian Telesmar) has big plans for the future. With his golfing buddy and former Ivy league classmate Roosevelt Hicks (DeJuan Christopher), Harmond is immersed in replacing the dilapidated slum neighborhood where he grew up with a state-of-the-art, mixed use, fully gentrified community development. Harmond also has big political plans: he is staking his campaign to become the first Black mayor of Pittsburgh on the project’s success. With his strong and talented wife Mame (Sydney A. Mason) by his side, victory seems assured.

Christian Telemar and Sydney A. Mason – Photo by Craig Schwartz

On the eve of the final bulldozing of the remaining hovels on the property and the ground-breaking ceremony planned at the demolition site, unexpected trouble looms. Elder Joseph Barlow (Alex Morris) and local handyman Sterling Johnson (Matt Orduna) show up trying to prevent the destructions of one apparently abandoned old ramshackled house from the turn of the century. But Harmond doesn’t really want to hear their arguments. Harmond is sure that he legally bought that house on auction for back taxes – or did he? And is it possible that the people who built that house are long-lost relatives? When ethics and economics collide, Harmond finds himself in a hopeless quandary. Where do his priorities lie? Is compromise possible?

Matt Orduna and Alex Morris – Photo by Craig Schwartz

RADIO GOLF  is seamlessly directed by Gregg T. Daniel. The excellent cast breathes life into the characters, each in his own way. Special kudos to a very lovable Joseph Barlow – brilliantly played by Alex Morris – whose wit and wisdom afford lots of chuckles. For today’s audiences, and especially for audience members who are not Black, RADIO GOLF may be the most relatable of Wilson’s tales. As the show amply demonstrates, well-heeled and educated Blacks just might think very much like any other successful and clever inhabitants of any city, regardless of color. The production also highlights the grip that the past may hold on the present, or even the future. Without a doubt, RADIO GOLF is a thought-provoking and fascinating study of dilemmas posed by questions of right and wrong, the clash of societal and personal goals, and the hold the past may have on all of us. RADIO GOLF is a complex and absorbing story which will intrigue and involve audiences. Besides, don’t forget that it will sometimes tickle your funny bone.

Christian Telesmar – Photo by Craig Schwartz

RADIO GOLF  runs through November 13, 2022, with performances at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, at 8 p.m. on Fridays, at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturdays, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays. A Noise Within is located at 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena, CA 91107. Tickets start at $25 (students $18; Pay-What-You-Choose tickets starting at $5 available online for the Friday, October 21, performance). For information and reservations, call 262-356-3100 or go online.


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