EMAV Review: 'Mountaintop' is a gourmet recipe for ★★★★★ theatricality and enchanting realis



★★★★★ - Irresistible

The Mountaintop by Katori Hall, is produced by Broadway in the Hood and is running for only four performances (January 13-15) in the Troesh Studio Theater at The Smith Center, 361 Symphony Park Avenue. Sadly, this is far too short a run of such a gourmet recipe for 5-Star theatricality and enchanting realism! With vivid theatrical imagination and powerful emotion, playwright Katori Hall beautifully fictionalizes the final hours of Dr. King’s life in this Olivier Award-winning drama about leadership, legacy and mortality.

Katori Hall, an American playwright, journalist, and actress, is an inaugural resident playwright of Arena Stage’s American Voices New Play Institute. She has crafted a gripping reimagination of events the night before the assassination of the civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. On April 3, 1968, after delivering one of his most memorable speeches, an exhausted Dr. King retires to his room at the Lorraine Motel while a storm rages outside. When a mysterious stranger arrives with some surprising news, King is forced to confront his destiny and his legacy to his people.

"Mountaintop" (2010 Olivier Award winner for Best New Play) is set in a room at the Lorraine Motel. After delivering his famous “I’ve been to the mountaintop speech” on behalf of the sanitation workers in Memphis, Martin goes to the motel to rest before another long day of campaigning. His world is spun on its axis when he meets Camae, a beautiful maid, who delivers his room service. At first, they only exchange flirtatious remarks, but soon they start a deep dialogue about Martin’s hopes and fears, and the two develop a true understanding. When Camae reveals that she is an angel that has come to prepare him for the soon-to-be-coming afterlife, Martin must confront his fears and face his own mortality. The Mountaintop shows the audience a different side of Martin Luther King: a man who is tired, flawed, yet -- despite everything -- an inspiration.

Smoothly and sensitively directed by Torrey Russell, actors Tiffany Thompson and Mario Peoples are electrifying, cocky and confident as they dance around each other accompanied only by the ominous lightning and thunder that crackles outside. Sharing coffee and cigarettes – and a phone call with God – they are captivating partners who effectively navigate the play’s comic moments through its sharp turn from hard-edged drama into magical realism. In an often funny, always emotionally charged production, the audience is given a poetic take on King’s legacy, its triumphs and still-unfulfilled promises.

Broadway in the H.O.O.D (Helping Others Open Doors), a national theatre program with their home office in Las Vegas, is dedicated to making a positive impact in communities across the United States, with a special focus on youth between the ages of 10 and 20.

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