Black and White

Mosaic Theatre gives August Wilson the bad guys he never wanted

Her husband, as the play's only genuinely dynamic character, starts out as a well-meaning money-and-power enthusiast and is then supposed to change into something else. In this production, he manages neither. Despite having the lead role, Summer Hill Seven is the only actor here whose failure cannot be attributed to a lack of empathy. His vocal production is weak (in every line, he sounds like a fifth-grade teacher's pet asking if he can please use the restroom), and despite his mayoral ambitions, he conveys all the gravitas of Shirley Temple. Worse, he plays Wilks as though any successful black person must necessarily move and sound precisely like Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Witness his wrath when he declares that taking a man's house "ain't right"; recoil in fear as he raps his knuckles on his desk in a dainty effusion of rage.

Summer Hill Seven and Lela Elam: Fist to fist, if not eye to eye
Summer Hill Seven and Lela Elam: Fist to fist, if not eye to eye

Details

Radio Golf Written by August Wilson. Directed by Richard J. Simon. Starring Summer Hill Seven, John Archie, W. Paul Bodie, Lela Elam, and Robert Strain. Presented through October 5 at the Mosaic Theatre, 12200 W. Broward Blvd., Plantation. Call 954-577-8243, or visit www.mosaictheatre.com.

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Thanks to Hill's childishness and Mosaic's plain interpretative aversion to money and power, in only about half of this production's scenes can you see Radio Golf's real potential. Most of those scenes involve John Archie, who plays Barlow. He is, to put it plainly, astonishing: singular and cosmic in his understanding of the world and yet so ordinary that you might think you remember him from your own neighborhood. W. Paul Bodie's character — Johnson, the ex-con vet — seems to melt into Archie's, but he has his moments too. Listen for the monologue in which he talks about the war, about realizing that if another human life means nothing, then his own must be forfeit as well. In one form or another, this idea — that there is no sliding scale for the value of human life — is at the bottom of much of Wilson's work. He treated his characters as equitably as he could, wrote them as they might want to be written. Mosaic didn't pick up on this. Watch this production and you'll get the idea that somebody's showing you villains where Wilson was merely delivering people.

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