The Mountaintop

Tuesday, October 25 th, 2016 at 00:10 am 

The Mountaintop stars Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson playing Martin Luther King, Jr. on the night before he was assassinated, and it takes place, supposedly, in the Lorraine Motel where he stayed. Angela plays a maid for the first half, and then, hopefully I’m not giving away too much, an angel the second half. Samuel L. Jackson plays Martin Luther King, and the idea being that he is played as a man who is dealing with his family and trying to get a hold of his wife, rather than as an icon, and very fearful about the death threats that he’s been receiving.  Samuel Jackson and Angela Bassett are a presence on stage, but I think he comes off better in this one. She sort of chews on the scenery, but it’s not really her fault. You can either do a realistic portrayal of a figure that a lot of people feel they know, whether they know him actually or not, or you can do a metaphor, but I don’t think you can do both, which is this production’s problem. The audience seemed to like it, and certainly it was an active audience in terms of talk back, even though there was no talk back during the play. However, I think they really needed to make the decision to either just do the first half of the play, which was basically a look at a man as he really is, or to do a metaphor, but I don’t think doing both worked. Two and a half stars.