Review: ‘Mountaintop’ A Bold Depiction of Martin Luther King Jr.

I was very excited to see “Mountaintop,” a student-directed production at Sam Houston State University. I even invited some people to watch it with me. Sitting in the audience, I could tell everyone else was also extremely excited to see this. Side note: I specifically chose not to read any backstory on the play or the writer just for the sense of surprise.
“Mountaintop” is set in the Lorraine Motel and is a fictional adaptation of Martin Luther King Jr.’s last night on Earth right before he was assassinated.
Kyle Ward played King and portrayed him phenomenally in his role as well as Destiny Mosely playing a fallen angle, I assume. My issue with this play lies less with the actors and the director, but more with the story itself. I did not get a chance to interview director Cameron Khalil Stokes, so I do not know his motive and inspiration for choosing to direct this show. Let’s just play with what we have.
When the writing of a show is as flawed as this, it is hard to see past that. That being said, the cast and crew did the best job possible of making something of the lackluster script.
The beginning was a little off-putting. King walked in coughing and hacking and just seemed like something was wrong with him. A little time passes, and a maid walks in overstaying her welcome, and things just got weird from there.
I appreciated the ‘yessa-massa’ accent which I felt was appropriate for the setting, but the character herself—apart from the actress— I didn’t like so much. I didn’t like her typical ‘60s black woman personality and how everything about her was just extra. Although it gave more life to the show, sometimes it just felt uncomfortable.
One thing I really want to point out is their view of God. We all know that Martin Luther King Jr. was a pastor and a dedicated man of God. Being that, I don’t think he is someone to easily believe someone’s words over his own knowledge in his faith. The angel told him that God was a sassy, dark-skinned black woman and whenever he would refer to God as “he” she would correct him saying “she.” I know Ariana Grande said God is a woman, but according to the Bible that Martin Luther King Jr. was reading, I think not.
The writing, in my opinion, portrayed King as things he was not— like a dummy and a common womanizer. I wouldn’t say it was a total fail, but it just didn’t make sense to me.
Now, I’m not a total negative. The actual idea of this is that it’s actually super fictional, and I understand that. I did like the ode they made to black revolutionaries over history and what the future held. That would probably be the only part I thoroughly appreciated.
I will commend Stokes on his direction of this play and how he was able to make this story come to life with such great actors. Overall, I appreciate the experience. It was something different. I still cannot appreciate the story, sorry. But good job.

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