I’m not usually one to get excited about box sets and compilations and such, but I have my eye on the September hardcover release of The August Wilson Century Cycle, a brilliant ten-play collection — one per decade — that chronicles African-American life in America. Radio Golf, the last of the ten plays, takes place in 1997 and was completed in late 2005, just before Wilson died of cancer at age 60. The current production is one to get lost in; engrossing, emotional, and direct, the drama is both dated (if, like me, Usher’s ‘You Make Me Wanna’ sounds like high school to you) and endlessly fresh and relevant.
Harry Lennix, of 24 fame, stars as Harmond Wilks, a successful upper-middle class businessman who is running for Mayor of Pittsburgh. He is the favored candidate, who, if victorious, will be the first black mayor of the city. Central to his campaign is a redevelopment project that will change the face of the crumbling Hill District, where he grew up. However, the campaign, not to mention partnerships with Whole Foods, Barnes & Noble and Starbucks, is threatened when the ownership of one soon-to-be-demolished old home is brought into question and Wilks considers the high road.
Radio Golf is not about morality in a simple world — rather, it looks at a black American success story and peels away the layers to ask, at whose expense? By padding whose pocket? Harmond Wilks is surrounded by a rich group of heartwarming characters, but it is the symbolism-heavy description of the old house at 1839 Wylie Ave that draws tears.