The Mountaintop : The Baton Passes On

The Mountaintop. Photo Andrée Lanthier The Mountaintop. Photo Andrée Lanthier

In those days where it seems harder and harder to get up in the morning, to see the beauty in the world surrounding us, to live freely without being bombarded with hatred and pain from the media I would suggest you to go see the play The Montaintop by Katori Hall at the Segal Centre of Performing Arts directed by ahdri zhina mandiela from Black Theatre Workshop and Neptune Theatre. This play is sure to make you think and laugh while empowering you with new knowledge.

Hall’s play is a fictional depictation of Reverend Martin Luther King as he lived his last night on this planet before the fateful day where he was assassinated in 1968 at Lorraine Motel. The whole action of the play takes place in a small hotel room where we see a very stressed, tired and anxious doctor King trying to write a new speech entitled “Why is America going to hell”. It’s on this note, in a very small and intimate setting, we as an audience get to see his last moments on earth. Throughout the story, we have the chance to see doctor King interacting with Camea, one minute a funny, corny, sexy, loving maid and the next one an angel sent by god to take him to heaven.

The play is very efficient in the way that it questions King’s speech about love and compares his non-violent movement to the one of Malcolm X which is a bit more violent but still revolutionary. The play questions our views on equality, our fear as a community and our dreams as a whole for the future of our world. The long dialogue between the characters of King and Camea is still relevant as we remember the purpose of the civil rights movement, all the different leaders of it, their divergent views on the topic but ultimately their desire of peace and greater good for all.

I was amazed at the minimalist set that the team was able to create, the choice of objects and props was on point and gave a real feel of the ’60s and the atmosphere in which King must have been. All the small elements of the set put together created a strong image and added much to the story being told. The sound effects were well used in order to make a break with the living world in order jump into the spiritual one. I loved how the team used technology, phones and TV in order to create a collage of all the major events and injustices that happened after the death of reverend King showing us how many serious things have happened since then and that in the end, the fight for freedom, really, never ends but that the mission, the “baton” passes on to another person and generation.

It truly is an interesting take from the production team and great work from the actors (Tristan D. Lalla, Letitia Brookes) take on such big roles. Their rendering is great, electric and mesmerizing. There is clearly a good connection between the actors and they have a great energy between them. Their characters are very alive and they share with the audience in a beautiful way.

I would definitely suggest you go see this play and let yourself be moved by the words of Dr. King and maybe take on the baton to try and make a change for the greater good!

The Mountaintop is at the Segal Centre of Performing Arts (5170 Chemin de la Côte Sainte-Catherine, Montreal) from October 14th to October 29th, Tickets: 514.739.7944 or HERE

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