Accomplished playwright Katori Hall takes a peek at the "myths" behind the legendary civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr,. as her play, The Mountaintop, made its debut in Baltimore, directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah.
The two-member cast features Shawn Hamilton and Myxolydia Tyler, both of whom are making their debut at Baltimore's Center Stage, but hold many stage and screen credits to their names.
Set against the backdrop of the historical 1968 sanitation workers strike in Memphis, the play supposedly chronicles the last few hours in the life of Dr. King in Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel.
In addition, Hall presents and exposes this Dr. King as an ordinary individual given over to "any-man" types of conditions and vices, some of which include smoking, drinking, lying, and smelly feet. She stirs up some controversy as the slain civil rights leader is also portrayed as flirtatious and arrogant.
The play features a lonely Dr. King who is befriended by the sassy and colorful character of a maid, Camae, in the King-Abernathy room of the hotel.
Hall exercises some literary license as she uses the elements of humor and frank discussions of emotions throughout the play, (which also contains an angelic twist), to evoke laughter as well as provoke thought.
The characters take theatregoers on a historical retrospective of events which have occurred during the life and since the assassination of Dr. King.
Comments overheard throughout the theatre at the conclusion of the play included: "The characters did a wonderful job", "The guy sounded like him, too." and "It was very different, but I enjoyed it."
All this (speechless) writer could think was, "Wow!"
'The Mountaintop' originally played on-Broadway to sold-out crowds and featured Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett and Kenny Leon.
The play runs in Baltimore from January 9 - February 24th at Center Stage's Head Theater.