The Mountaintop

 

By Katori Hallcourt theatre

Directed by Ron OJ Parson

At Court Theatre, Chicago

Look at the humanity of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in his last days filled with isights

Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop contains a strange premise  that moves from  exposing the raw humanity of Dr. King  to sanctifying him as we get a glimpse of his last evening on earth on April 3, 1968. In the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. King ( David Alan Anderson) is alone working on his speech for the next day’s rally when he orders room service. It is delivered by Camae (Lisa Beasley), a young motel maid.

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The two strike up a conversation revolving  around King’s celebrity and his need for a cigarette. Over Pall Malls, we slowly begin to both see the human side of Dr. King and his eventual fate. We see Dr.  King as a lonely man with doubts as to his purpose and the direction of his movement. he is tired and spent. The rainy lightning contributes to his fears for his life after continuous threats on his life. The clap of thunder ignites his fears.

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But, the young outspoken maid interests Dr. King as she flirts and he flirts back. But when she calls King “Michael,” he realizes that she is more than merely a motel maid. The two spare verbally  and King realizes that Canae is, indeed, an angel come from heaven to announce that King must come with her to heaven.

Filled with humor, raw humanity The Mountaintop unfolds as two-hander that becomes a powerful meditation on morality, destiny and fate. We see through clever scenes Camae calling God (who here is a she) on a cellphone  to report that Dr. King is vehemently resisting leaving earth. King eventually talks then argues with God who ends up hanging up on King.

While this show is lively, funny, and personalizes Dr. King unlike most portraits of the Civil Rights Giant,  it becomes a tribute with an amazing video ( by Mike Tutaj) of what occurs after King’s death in 1968. This doesn’t serve the play well as we know the greatness of Dr. King,  I only wish we could see more of King the man. David Alan Anderson was outstanding as Dr. King; Lisa Beasley (who spoke too fast early on) settled in and gave a spunky and heartwarming performance. This fantasy did much to present the personal side of the legendary leader. I only wish it went more into his personal life.

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For more info checkout The Muntaintop page at theatreinchicago.com

At Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis, Chicago, IL, call 773-753-4472, www.courttheatre.org, tickets $45 – $65, Wed & Thur at 7:30 pm, Fridays at 8 pm, Saturdays at 3 & 8 pm, Sundays at 2:30 7 7:30 pm,running time is 100 minutes without intermission, through October 6, 2013