** Disclaimer: Though it has not impacted the integrity of my review of this play, I did receive tickets for really awesome seats to complete the review. All the better to see the tiny details and report back to you, my dears
Watch: The Mountaintop, Opening Night
If you knew you would die tomorrow, what would you be thinking? What would you feel? What would you wish you’d said or hadn’t said, done or hadn’t done? What would you fear? The Broadway play, “The Mountaintop” explores each of these questions in the re-imagined mind of Martin Luther King, Jr., the night before he was assassinated. Set in the now-infamous Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee on April 3rd, 1968, Samuel L. Jackson plays a weary MLK — not the legend, but simply the man — as he wrestles with his fate, argues with God and comes to grips with his purpose. Jackson exposes every vulnerability of a conflicted King resigned to a life and a fate not completely of his choosing, and simply nails the appearance and accent of a 1968 MLK.
The physically stunning Angela Bassett plays the foil to Jackson’s MLK: a cursing, Pall Mall-smoking, free-spirited maid named Camae on her first day working at the motel. But what begins as a routine delivery to King’s motel room, quickly turns into a life-altering interaction between the two, as we discover that Camae is more than what she seems to be. “The Mountaintop” play consists solely of this interaction between these two characters, as their own God-given purposes collide.
Bassett is the clear star of this production, delivering up a performance so intentional that you’re left feeling every possible emotion as you spiral deeper and deeper into the life and purpose of Camae. With no room for an intermission, these two film legends bring to the stage an undeniable energy and chemistry that will captivate you for the duration of the play and beyond. I say “beyond,” because you will be both emotionally emptied and then re-filled when you leave, inspired to chase your purpose even more than before, ill-content to leave the dreaming and doing to a 1968 Martin Luther King, a President Obama, or anyone else. You’ll be reminded that we each were given a role to play in this world, here and now, big or small. It is a reminder that we will fulfill that role — whether we like it or want it or not — so we might as well surrender. And as for our finality, we’ll remember that we live and die for something greater than ourselves, and we are merely vessel’s for God’s use. Nothing dies simply because we die. Though giants compared to some, none are so big as to thwart the will of God.
Of course, “The Mountaintop” is not a perfect play. Accomplished Black playwright Katori Hall stumbles into stereotype with the over-usage of foul language in an all-Black production. Worse still is the fumbling of the portrayal of Christianity in the production, with the suggestion that one receives salvation through one’s own deeds as opposed to through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. She blends her imaginings of who God is as a way to rebut MLK’s faith (both in the play and real life), an effort one can only imagine was intended to show that when we meet our maker, God will be nothing like we thought. However, the baseless details she adds to God come across as completely irrelevant to the core of the story she is trying to tell. While mildly irritating, the purpose of the story is so compelling, and Bassett’s final monologue in the play is so stimulating and inspiring that these blunders are largely drowned out.
All things considered, this play is worth your time, and its message is worth your introspection. Head up to New York City, stay at the Marriott Marquis at Times Square — right across the street from the theater — and go see “The Mountaintop,” starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett. I give “The Mountaintop” four out of five stilettos:
To get the DIVA DISCOUNT on tickets for this show, visit http://www.broadwayoffers.com and enter this code: MTMKG114. You will receive a nearly 30% off discount for tickets on this show THROUGH JANUARY 18, 2012 ONLY!!
With your Diva Discount you’ll get tickets for these prices:
Tues – Thurs – $84.50/ $54.50
Wed Mats – $79.50/ $49.50
Fri-Sun – $94.50/ $59.50
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