Katori Hall's "Mountaintop"
So how would Martin Luther King, or really any martyr, modern-day or historical, engage with a random stranger during his last hours? It's a dirt-simple and astonishingly compelling premise for a play (I can hear creative writing teachers everywhere yelling 'Yes! The only lesson plan I'll ever need!') And that, I'm afraid, is the last good thought I had about Hall's play, which I caught in its current run at the Performance Network.
Beginning on a note that is intended to demythologize King, Hall whacks a few too many supports out from under him. Put her anxious, rabbity King in the ring with Willy Loman, and Loman wins the alpha male trophy. Casting doesn't help here: King is played by fidgety, tenor-voiced Brian Marable, lately, and greatly, of Purple Rose's Superior Donuts. Anyone could wipe the floor with his King, and dazzling Carollette Phillips as Camae does; then the limp battle-of-the-sexes comedy veers off in an entirely unexpected direction: Camae announces that she's actually an angel and telephones God to ask for additional guidance. The Mountaintop has now landed in the middle of the Mitch Albom drama school. Honest to God, I never thought I'd say this, but Albom does it better.
[Originally published in June, 2013.]