Radio Golf is the tenth and final play in August Wilson’s Pittsburgh Cycle. The Indiana Repertory Theatre has produced plays from this series in the past (The Piano Lesson and Gem of the Ocean), each of which has had its own unique feel. Each of the 10 different plays are set in one decade of the 20th Century and look at issues the African American community have had to deal with during that time. This newest production, set in 1997, is on stage now.
An ambitious man, Harmond Wilks, returns to the rundown neighborhood he grew up in to spearhead his campaign for Mayor and a redevelopment project in the area. One house is set to be torn down to make way for a Whole Foods. The man who grew up in the home claims he still owns it. The house happens to be the setting of Gem of the Ocean, the first play in the cycle, which makes it a nice bookend for the series.
At the IRT there's always something to love, but a few of the elements in this production fall short. At two hours and 45 minutes, many scenes feel bloated and could have been cut. The plot is ambitious, but loses its focuses in the second act when it tries to address too many issues at once.
What makes the play interesting though are the characters and the talented performers who bring them to life. Old Joe, played by Abdul Salaam El Razzac, is the highlight of the show. He lights up the stage with his lanky frame and conveys deep messages with a single glance. He dispenses wisdom with his odd stories and is both bitter and playful in equal measures. His performances alone would make the show worth seeing, but the rest of the cast does a great job as well.
A huge kudos goes to Vicki Smith for creating an unbelievably realistic set. The neglected office building looks like it has been in that spot for decades. You can see telephone wires and old homes in the distance behind it. The aged pipes and peeling paint all add to the exceptional design.
One additional note, the IRT offers options for visually and audio-impaired audience members. Be sure to check and find out what performances feature sign language or other options to fit your needs.
Don't Miss the Show
The Indiana Repertory Theatre is located at 140 W. Washington St., Indianapolis, one-half block west of the Circle Center Mall between northbound Illinois St. and southbound Capitol Ave. "Radio Golf" runs until Sunday, Jan. 29 on IRT's Main Stage. Times for performances can be found at www.irtlive.com or by calling the IRT box office at (317) 635-5252. To purchase tickets call (317) 635-5252 or order online at www.irtlive.com
Photos Courtesy of the Indiana Repertory Theatre