Saturday, March 6, 2010

Three Year-Old Period Piece

The Reps RADIO GOLF a look back at the late 90s

By Russ Bickerstaff
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By the time Iíd made it to opening night of the Repís Radio Golf last night, Iíd already sat in two different theatres for three different shows over the course of the day. I was a bit exhausted. I couldnítíve asked for a better show to end the day on. The Repís radio Golf is a really well-realized piece of contemporary political drama. Itís a bit strange going to a show at the Repís Stiemke Theatre and recognizing more actors in the audience than on the stage . . . the Repís cast for the show largely consists of out of town talent.

Radio Golf is the final part in August Wilsonís exhaustive decalogy The Pittsburg Cycle. Itís set just a few years ago . . . in 1997. And though it debuted in 2006, there are some kind of superficial aspects of the story which cast the play in a different light than it wouldíve been bathed in just four years ago.

The play concerns Harmond Wilks (Tyrone Mitchell Henderson) a man looking to become the first black Mayor of Pittsburgh. Heís a lawyer who has inherited a real estate firm from his father. He and his business partner Roosevelt Hicks (Howard W. Overshown) are looking to build a high rise apartment complex. In order to do so, they have to tear down a number of houses in a blighted area of town. One man living on the block refuses to relinquish his home.

Talk of running for public office in a town that may not be ready to elect its first black mayor would inevitably involve talk of Obamaís successful presidential run. That conversation feels a bit absent here, almost giving the play a sort of a period feel. And yet, I know full well that one man becoming president doesnít change much of the socio-political complexity Wilson is exploring in the drama. Itís just strange . . . it feels like weíve come a long way in the past few years but thereís so much that still has to change . . .

Roosevelt¬† and Harmond share an office. Above Harmondís desk is a poster of Martin Luther King Jr. Above Rooseveltís desk is a poster of Tiger Woods. It's symbolic, but the symbolism has kind of a different hue in 2010 than it did a few year ago. As the title of the play would suggest, thereís some talk of golf here. In one of Rooseveltís first lines, heís wondering how much Tiger Woods makes per stroke. The image of a legendary athlete who has made a fortune has a distinct feel to it, but Woodsí marital infidelity has cast a shadow over the manís successes that cast that particular symbolic aspect of the play in kind of an interesting light . . .

The Repís production of Radio Golf runs through March 28th at the Stiemke Theater. A review of the show runs in next week's Shepherd-Express.

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