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Nathan James in August Wilson's Radio Golf.

BROADWAY WORLD: August Wilson's RADIO GOLF at Two River Theater—A Gem of a Play Excellently Presented

by Marina Kennedy

Two River Theater (TRT) is now presenting a play that has been highly anticipated in their current season, August Wilson‘s, Radio Golf. With the superb direction of Brandon J. Dirden, and a cast that is perfect in their roles, it is a must-see show. We attended the opening night performance when the enthusiastic audience gave it a rousing standing ovation.

TRT continues its commitment to produce all ten plays of August Wilson‘s American Century Cycle with works that explore the heritage and experience of the descendants of Africans in North America decade-by-decade throughout the 20th Century. Radio Golf is the sixth play TRT has produced and the final play in the Cycle

Set in 1997, the story takes place in an office located in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. Harmond Wilks, who has inherited a real estate agency, is running for mayor of Pittsburgh while planning the Bedford Hills Redevelopment Project with his friend and golfing buddy, Roosevelt Hicks. The project will bring upscale businesses and an apartment complex to the urban neighborhood. Even though Harmond’s wife, Mame lends her enthusiasm and public relation talents to his political campaign, Harmond faces challenges as an African American man running for the highest public office in the city. The future of the redevelopment project is also in question when the house at 1839 Wylie Avenue in the construction zone is slated for demolition. This home belonged to an elderly, long-time resident, Joseph Barlow and it was ancestral home of Aunt Esther who passed away, yet she still has deep spiritual ties in the community. An ideological battle ensues between the culture of the neighborhood’s past, as seen through the eyes of Joseph Barlow and a young local handyman, Sterling Johnson and its prospects for the future. The story, with its genuine characters, keenly addresses the issue of gentrification while it takes an incisive look at race and social class in America.

The accomplished cast of Radio Golf includes Carl Hendrick Louis as Harmond Wilks; Amber Iman as Mame Wilks; Wayne DeHart as Elder Joseph BarlowNathan James as Sterling Johnson; and Robbie Williams as Roosevelt Hicks. This company couldn’t be better. The portrayals of their roles are a lively embodiment of people dealing with an dynamic situation. You’ll like scenes such as Mame’s excitement over her job offer with the governor’s office; Mame and Harmond planning his campaign slogan; Roosevelt talking about when he started playing golf; Joseph visiting Harmond’s office for help and advice; Roosevelt telling Harmond about assuming part ownership of a local radio station; Stirling talking of his youth and schooling; Roosevelt reading Joseph’s rap sheet; and Joseph and Harmond tracing their family’s relationship.

The Creative Team has developed a wonderful setting to bring Radio Golf to the Red Bank Stage. The Team includes scenic design by Ed Haynes; costume design, Karen Perry; lighting design, Driscoll Otto, sound design, Kay Richardson; and wig design, Erin Hicks. The Production Stage Manager is Megan Smith and Casting is by Heidi Griffiths & Kate Murray.

Radio Golf is a gem of a play that is being presented at its very best. The show gives metro area audiences a top reason to attend theatre, to be entertained and enlightened. We applaud Artistic Director, John Dias and Managing Director, Michael Hurst for continuing to produce August Wilson‘s American Century Cycle at TRT.

Radio Golf will be performed in Two River’s Rechnitz Theatre through March 22. It runs for 2 hours and 15 minutes with one intermission. The Theater is located at 21 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank, NJ 07701. Ticket prices for Radio Golf range from $40 to $70, with discounts available for groups, seniors, and U.S. military personnel, their families, and veterans. A limited number of $25 tickets are available for every performance; $25 tickets may be partial view. Tickets for patrons under 30 are $25 and include the best available seats at every performance. Tickets are available from https://tworivertheater.org/ or call 732.345.1400. Two River Theater’s 2019/20 Season Sponsor is Hackensack Meridian Health Riverview Medical Center.