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Entertainment // Art & Stage
Rasa Fournier

Radio Golf: Has The Talent, Lacks The Finesse

Pittsburgh in the late ’90s finds Harmon Wilks jockeying to become the city’s first black mayor in TAG’s Radio Golf. The golden scepter is nearly in his hand until chance meetings and subsequent revelations upend his worldview, causing him to reevaluate his political stance.

Meet Wilks and the characters who wander through his door:

Wilks is played by J. Edward Murray, with a sense of tame ambition. He’s idealistic, having entered the White Man’s World in order clean up the city and give blacks a safer, more hopeful neighborhood. It’s a treat when he lets loose now and then.

Murray’s best moments are shared with the superb Derrick Brown as Roosevelt Hicks. The two share office space. While Wilks struggles with his newfound power, which means bending to the White Man’s rules, Hicks has no qualms about riding the affirmative action train to success. He does it with palpable, unapologetic fer-vor, bringing welcome, combustive moments to the stage.

Less chemistry is shared between Murray and the petite, attention-grabbing Terry Tiandra Bookhart as his wife, Mame. They each give their parts their all, but they have an awkward way of repeatedly facing the audience, with Murray embracing Bookhart from behind, as though the audience won’t “get” the intimacy of the moment without having it spelled out for us. Subtlety would go further.

The stage heats up every time Quantae Love appears – the rough-and-tumble voice from the streets. He also simmered as King in King Hedley II, staged at TAG a year ago. Both plays were written by playwright August Wilson and both take on the issue of race in a gritty urban setting. Hedley was by far the superior production.

The weakest link, which should be the strongest, is in Curtis Duncan as Elder Joseph Barlow. Barlow is an elderly role, but young Duncan is so full of verve and spirit that the part was simply miscast. Barlow is meant to be the most sympathetic character in the script, the catalyst for all of the play’s action, but he hems and haws and overacts to the point that you find yourself shutting him out and hoping instead to see the other characters more.

Sitting through Radio Golf was like watching a potentially fine film, but one that needs editing. It had moments of substance that you find yourself craving more of as you sift through the overall messy structure.

THE TICKET STUB

RADIO GOLF
When: Through Feb. 23
Where: TAG (650 Iwilei Road, Suite 101)
Cost: $12-$20
More Info: 722-6941, taghawaii.net

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