Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Philadelphia

Radio Golf
Arden Theatre Company
Review by Rebecca Rendell

Also see Rebecca's recent reviews of Mistakes Were Made, The American Revolution and Cabaret

Brian Anthony Wilson, Phillip Brown,
Kesserack Kemnew, Kash Goins (director), Zuhairah,
and Damien J. Wallace

Photo by Ashley Smith/Wide Eyed Studios
Director Kash Goins' extraordinary and impactful production of August Wilson's Radio Golf at the Arden Theatre brings together a tremendous ensemble of actors and gives them room to shine. Together they tell a potent story about the unexpected relationships that shape our lives and the high cost of staying true to yourself. Firmly grounded in the experience of Black Americans, Wilson's play grapples with issues of race, class, gentrification, and the legacy of the African American community in America.

Radio Golf tells the story of Harmond Wilks, a real estate developer running for mayor in Pittsburgh in the 1990s. Wilks is working on a redevelopment project in the historically Black Hill District, but discovers that a house on the site is actually the childhood home of a friend and former business partner who has been missing for years. As Wilks investigates the house and its history, he is forced to confront the tension between his political ambitions, his closest relationships, and his personal integrity.

A powerful and thought-provoking work of American theater, Radio Golf opened on Broadway in 2007 and is the final play in Wilson's Pittsburgh Cycle, a series of ten plays exploring the Black experience in Pittsburgh (except for one, which is set in Chicago) throughout the 20th century.

Kes Khemnu is effortlessly charismatic as upbeat and idealistic Harmond Wilks. Phillip Brown plays Harmond's perceptive, quick-witted, and worldly wise best friend Roosevelt Hicks with a confident swagger. The love and respect Khemnu and Brown have for each other is tangible, but the connection between Khemnu and Zuhairah feels almost sacred. Zuhairah takes on the role of Harmond's tenacious and fiery wife Mame Wilks with authenticity and love. Philadelphia stalwart Damien J. Wallace plays mysterious troublemaker Elder Joseph Barlow with a perfect blend of pride and mischief. Brian Anthony Wilson completes the ensemble as relatable local hard-head Sterling Johnson. The genuine and intimate relationships these actors forge on stage is captivating.

Goins' crew supplies the perfect setting and tone for this talented ensemble. Scenic designer David P. Gordon and lighting designer Thom Weaver create an open and simple space that feels ripe with possibility. Levonne Lindsay hits the mark with every costume provided. The Arden always brings its best to Philadelphia and this is one production you definitely do not want to miss.

Radio Golf runs through April 16, 2023, at Arden Theatre Company, F. Otto Haas Stage, 40 N. 2nd Street, Philadelphia PA. For tickets and information, please visit, call 215-922-1122, or visit the box office in person.

Phillip Brown: Roosevelt Hicks
Kesserack Kemnew: Harmond Wilks
Damien J. Wallace: Elder Joseph Barlow
Brian Anthony Wilson: Sterling Johnson
Zuhairah: Mame Wilks

Director: Kash Goins
Assistant Director: Reva Stover
Scenic Design: David P. Gordon
Costume Design: Levonne Lindsay
Lighting Design: Thom Weaver
Sound Design: Daniel Ison
Stage Manager: Jason Weixelman