Friday, June 26, 2015

Flashback Friday again!

Howdy, all!  I'm currently preparing to enjoy some family time with my mom and my nephew.  Please everyone put good thoughts in the universe that my teenaged nephew has at least a small bit of fun while he's here...

I was looking again at next season's offerings - it seems like so many productions are revivals.  Sigh.  Where are the new plays?!  And, if we have to have revivals, why can't we have revivals of August Wilson plays?!  I miss them.  So, when I was looking for something to post as a 'flashback,' I found a review I wrote of the last new August Wilson play produced on Broadway, Radio Golf.  I saw it eight years ago today.  Eight years ago.  Wow.  This isn't much of a review, sorry, but here it is.  I wonder if it's time for a revival of Radio Golf?!  Maybe after the Obama presidency, it will have even more resonance...

June 26, 2007:  Hi, everybody!  Forgive me if I write distractedly—I have the video of my Roger Federer playing his second round Wimbledon match in the background behind this e-mail.  (he’s up a set, if you were wondering)   Anyway, I saw Radio Golf last night and really enjoyed it.  It’s maybe a little lighter than most other August Wilson works, perhaps a little slighter as well, but it’s a solid work.  It’s very well acted and quite a bit funnier than I thought it would be.  Having said that, maybe it doesn’t really attain the ‘important’ status of much of Wilson’s body of work, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing either.  But maybe that’s what Wilson was saying—some of the problems facing people now aren’t as weighty as in the past, but they need to be dealt with just the same.  Who knows?  But, as always in a Wilson play, the dialogue is fantastic, only in a more contemporary and less grandiose way.

Harry Lennix (who I liked very much on the most recent season of 24) plays a successful businessman who returns to his old neighborhood in Pittsburgh to head a redevelopment campaign and kick off a possible mayoral campaign.  It’s his struggle between right and wrong, success and failure, the past and present which drives the story.  It’s directed briskly by Kenny Leon (who I thought over-directed Gem of the Ocean).  The set design is terrific and the incidental music is very good.

photo credit: Carol Rosegg
I think this is the best ensemble I’ve seen in a Wilson play.  The two gentlemen who were up for Featured Tonys were both really wonderful.  I loved me some Billy Crudup in Coast of Utopia, but boy, after seeing these guys in Radio Golf, I would not have been unhappy if either guy had won.  Anthony Chisholm plays the old sage, a regular in Wilson plays, who sounds crazy at first but then you realize he’s making the most sense of anyone.  John Earl Jelks is an old neighborhood friend who hasn’t achieved the material success of the other guys, but who is definitely more comfortable in his skin and makes the character Lennix plays think about and reassess his life and career.  The other character is the wife of Lennix’s character, played by Tonya Pinkins.  Hers is the least developed character, but Pinkins makes her an interesting woman.  But she’s essentially a device and not a true character. 

I really enjoyed the show and I think it’s a shame that it couldn’t run longer.  The audience last night was extremely attentive and enthusiastic, which was nice to see.  I got my ticket from TDF and was in the sixth row orchestra, so if you’re not doing anything else this week, you could do worse than pick up a cheapie ticket and check it out.

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