'The Mountaintop' is brilliant!
LINDA ARMSTRONG Special to the AmNews | 10/13/2011, 11:18 a.m.
"The Mountaintop" peaks with deep, heartfelt emotion. Katori Hall has imagined a story that is a tour de force filled with humor, human frailty and the personal struggles that the leader of a movement faces.
This drama seems to be inspired from above; it definitely has a heavenly cast in the phenomenal team of Samuel L. Jackson as Dr. King and the one and only Angela Bassett as Camae, a maid he encounters at the Lorraine Motel when he orders room service.
Hall creates a fictional story of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. might have experienced in Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tenn., on April 3, 1968.
The play begins immediately after King made his famous speech before the striking Black sanitation workers. In his room, trying to work on his next speech, King calls his wife and speaks to her and one of their children, Bernice, who is having trouble sleeping. It is around midnight. `
King speaks lovingly to his daughter and gives her advice about how to get to sleep. He shares with his wife how the speech went. Thousands of people came.
When Camae comes to the room with room with coffee for King, who is suffering from a cold, he complains to her that not enough people came out. He thinks that people don't care. Camae shares that people didn't come out because of the rain and because they are afraid of retribution from the whites.
While Camae is honored to bring coffee to King, as they discuss different topics she goes toe to toe with him and proves to have as strong a personality as he does. Let me just say that this play is more than entertaining; it is down-to-earth and educational as devastating moments King experienced during the Civil Rights Movement are discussed.
The play also portrays King as a sensitive minister and a human being with human feelings and needs. He was also targeted by the government and had to check for bugs in the room.
Within the hour and 40 minutes this story takes to unfold, you will have a vivid look at the man King was-the very human side of the man who led one of the most important movements in history.
You will also see that people who are put on this earth for a purpose may have a special connection to God, one even they don't realize.
Jackson captivates in his portrayal of King, with a dedication that demonstrates an enormous degree of respect. Bassett completely commits to her role as Camae and takes the audience on a ride they won't ever forget.
She performs with a passion that is only paralleled by that of Jackson.
Director Kenny Leon does a superb job of bringing together the riveting performances of Jackson and Bassett in a production that touches the heart.
Branford Marsalis creates original music that aids in setting the mood. The set by David Gallo is fantastic, and his projection design is amazing to behold.
Traveling to the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on West 45th Street is a journey that will fill your soul. You need to make plans to get to see "The Mountaintop"-by the end of the show you will find your soul ascending above after experiencing pure, theatrical delight.
I've seen "The Mountaintop" and it is absolutely brilliant! The play opens tonight, Oct. 13.
For more information, visit www.themountaintopplay.com.