“The MountainTop” seemed entirely unassuming, initially. Only two actors, no intermission, and one set. Previous research into the production yielded reviews that truthfully did not do the performance nor the playwright the justice it deserved.
Samuel L. Jackson played the role of Martin Luther King. The loosely based fictional rendition of actual events on the eve of King’s murder created a surprise setting for authentic spiritual relationship to unfold.
Angela Bassett portrayed the fiesty maid, named Camae (a hybrid of the playwrights mother’s name Carrie Mae)-proved to be far more reverant than the austere veneer.
There aren’t words to describe this theatrical creation, written by a Southern Black woman who is barely thirty (30)! Her name is Katori Hall and this world has alot more to see from this rising star. Her credits and training, though extensive-really don’t even need to rattled off. The end product spoke volumes to her credibility.
The play is directed by the reknowned Kenny Leon-nominatd for a Tony Award for “Fences”. Which was also another outstanding Broadway production that starred Denzel Washington. The outstanding scenic design was created by David Gallo and the musical selections were orchestrated by the talented Brandon Marsalis. Both artistic offerings perfectly complimented the play which created a robust, well thought, incredibly hearty deliverance.
This play is a fictionalized recount of Dr. King’s final hours in that lack luster hotel room at Looraine Motel the night before his assassination. King professes to his maker that: “There is still work to do before I leave”.
Hall states “It’s easy to think of him (Dr. King) as a saint, but what’s important is to get past the myth and see him as a man.” In the play the great Reverend Dr. KANG drinks liquor offered to him by the flirty Camae, smokes and even curses. The use of juxtaposed mores truly capture the entirely real side of the “Michael” (his birthname).
Leon expects the play to run off broadway at least until January 15, 2012. He contends that it will be one of those theater pieces that change the course of society.
“I think Katori is forcing different generations to come to the table” says Leon.
As evidenced by the last full scene. Angela Bassett delivers an intoxicating spoken word entitled “Pick up the Paton”. It challenges the members of the audience to recall all that we have endured and all that still must be surmounted. The call awakens the activism spirit within those so moved. Finally, Samuel L. Jackson’s closing soliloquise capsulates the call for action by insisting that “each of you have the power and ability to pick up the paton that has been dropped….PICK IT UP and MOVE FORWARD!”
With hearts full the multigenerational, multiracial audience spilled into the halls of the compact NY theater. Some were diliberately silent to ingest that which had struck their consciousness. Others were vocally elated having experienced the audacious creative invention that challenged typical thoughts.
This play is definitely worth the