South Camden Theatre Company topped off its 8th Season with August Wilson’s RADIO GOLF, an intensely funny and serious play, delivering the playwright’s message loud and clear. And, the playwright himself couldn’t have picked a better cast and director to deliver it.
Harmond Wilks and his wife, Mame, along with their friend, Roosevelt Hicks, all have one thing in common. They didn’t have to struggle in the real world. They went to Ivy League schools and success was practically handed to each of them. None of them had actually been to the area they were going to redevelop. All they have to do is follow the rules and success (money) would follow. Harmond has more to lose than the others because he is running for Mayor, too. However, that’s when everything starts going terribly wrong; the real world comes to them and we see who they really are as people. Race doesn’t matter. What do the corporate stereotypes do? They play golf. They make deals. Some are ruthless. I’ll leave the rest for you to enjoy.
SCTC’s production of RADIO GOLF was full of laughs, suspense, and interesting characters. We knew how it would end, but getting there was quite a fascinating and entertaining journey. It’s nice to watch classic theatre at its best. More than that–it’s easy to become totally immersed in it as I was.
RADIO GOLF was the tenth and last of the series (called the Pittsburgh Cycle) of August Wilson’s plays, each play representing a decade, depicting the comic and tragic aspects of African-American experience in the twentieth century. He won two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama in his Pittsburgh Cycle.
In Wilson’s RADIO GOLF, he also shows us the not so simple truth wrapped in a seemingly simple story. He has been criticized that this play is his thinnest in terms of message, but I disagree. I would say its simplicity makes the message stronger felt by the audience. Sometimes the truth is right in front of us, but until it unfolds as it does here we don’t want to believe it.
The actors gave the play the high energy it deserved so it was comical when it was supposed to be and tense when it needed to be. All the characters, carefully drawn by Wilson, were humanized by the actors playing them.
Kim E. Brown gave a great account of himself as “Harmond Wilks,” the Ivy League graduate who was running for Mayor as well as being involved in the redevelopment project, and Tiffany R. Barrett was perfect as his wife, “Mame,” a controller who discovers she is useful to the Governor only as long as her husband is the frontrunner for Mayor. Andre N. Jones gave his character, “Roosevelt Hicks,” the high energy portrayal it required. Damien J. Wallace as “Elder Joseph Barlow,” demonstrated the presence, mystery, and the right amount of crazy the role needed. “Sterling Johnson,” played superbly by Roderick Slocum (or Rodd Deon), was alternately the character who failed miserably in life’s education and work, but was successful as a moral compass for the others. Kudos to all!
Director Connie Norwood is to be commended for her outstanding placement and movement of actors on a stage that is just not as deep as any director would want it to be. The actors certainly used all the available space.
The set decoration, on the other hand, might have been improved somewhat. I wonder if the Company could have used a drafting or an artist’s table instead of the coffee table, which would have opened up that space. However, they may have tried it and found it wasn’t practical at all. Just a thought. The sound and lights seemed right on the money. The door was strong enough for all the slamming; that’s a good thing.
I had a great time. I’m sure you will, too.
Written by August Wilson
Directed by Connie Norwood
April 19 – May 5, 2013
Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m.
Sundays at 2:00 p.m.
South Camden Theatre Company
Waterfront South Theatre
400 Jasper Street
Camden, NJ 08104