WESTON, Vt. – The final show for the Weston Playhouse this season “The Mountaintop” delivers on all fronts: dynamic chemistry from its two actors, an intriguing premise, a time-capsule of a set, thought-provoking and powerful themes, and an interesting twist that I’ll keep to myself for audience members to discover for themselves.
With any article, whether written for the printed page or online, brevity is our friend so I’ll get right to the point – this play is important. See it.
Written by Katori Hall and directed by Raz Golden, this fantasy takes place in a room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis April 3, 1968, the night before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is murdered on the balcony outside his room. The room itself is spot on for the era, complete with the most basic orange hotel bedspreads, cheap veneer nightstand, art-deco lamp, and a rotary phone. The continuing rain outside the door and windows and sporadic thunder pull the audience in to hunker down with King during his final night. Though last in the season, this was the first to be performed inside their Walker Farm Theater, and we’re grateful for the intimacy here.
With a storm building outside, a hotel maid Camae brings him a cup of coffee. Their ongoing conversation brings the audience through parts of his past, reveals the hopes and fears of the man himself and his place in the movement, and explores how his message is communicated through peaceful protest, often in conflict with other African American leaders who were critical of King for his soft stance at the time.
The audience is left to decide for themselves which was more important to the overall struggle for equality for African Americans: the man himself, the myth, the martyr, or the icon. Ultimately, we see that the struggle is still real, the torch has and must continue to be passed along, and there are still many steps to go before any of us reach the Promised Land.
Neil Dawson, who plays King, is a dynamic presence and shows a vulnerable side to the great man but is excellent in portraying the greatness too. Camae, played by Maechi Aharanwa, is the spitfire here though. Her performance lifts the importance of the play into a truly joyful, enjoyable, and memorable evening.
“The Mountaintop” performances run from Sept. 29 through Oct. 24. The audience is seated in separate pods, and proof of vaccination and masks are required.
Tickets are available online and by calling the Weston Box Office at 802-824-5288. Gift cards can be purchased online at www.westonplayhouse.org. The Weston Playhouse Theatre Company is a nonprofit organization supported in part by funds from the National Endowment for the Arts and an ever-growing family of individuals and organizations who believe in the impact that the performing arts makes on its community.