The Mountain Top

In April 1968, Martin Luther King Jr went to Memphis. He made a speech about how, having survived an assassination attempt, he was not afraid of death. He had ‘been to the mountaintop’. The next day, he was shot dead on the balcony of his motel.

Sosa is superb: enthusiastic but reverent, joyful but deeply sad. Her tears are real and we very nearly join her.

Katori Hall’s Olivier award-winning play asks what happened that evening, after the speech but before the shooting. We see King in room 306 preparing points for the next day’s sermon, shouting for cigarettes and cowering at the sound of thunder. Into this walks a maid, Camae, who brings him late night coffee. It quickly transpires that Camae is not all that she seems: she smokes prestigious Pall Malls, treats King to a Black Panther-style oration and claims that she has spoken to God, who is apparently a woman. Is she a maid, an activist or something else entirely?

As the doomed civil rights hero, Mark M. Cryer gives an assured performance. His default demeanour is one of gentle ministerial respect but he conveys the nuances of King’s character well – he was a notorious womaniser and the early exchanges with Kiana Sosa’s Camae have an unmistakable and uncomfortable sexual tension. As the play progresses and Camae forces King to face up to who and what he really is, Cryer can get his teeth into moments of fiery anger and anguish. Sosa is superb: enthusiastic but reverent, joyful but deeply sad. Her tears are real and we very nearly join her.

That we don’t is somewhat instructive. The acting is impeccable in isolation but, when together, Cryer and Sosa never quite have the onstage spark needed to make the piece truly great. The play takes a slightly unexpected turn for the spiritual towards its conclusion and the production doesn’t quite know how to handle it – some moments are played with a tongue-in-cheek self-awareness, others are totally straight. Cryer also directs and he does so with a subtlety that is highly respectful of the source material. There isn’t anything mind-blowingly original in the production concept, but it’s perfectly functional and, given that this is significantly longer than a typical Fringe play, it never really drags.

Cryer’s The Mountain Top is a fine production of a fine play. It doesn’t quite hit all of its intended emotional resonances, but its intentions are admirable and its passion is clear.

Reviews by Sam Forbes

Summerhall

Borderlands

★★★★
Summerhall

The Ex

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

You're Not Like the Other Girls Chrissy

★★★★
Cafe Camino

Woolly Eyed Turtle 3D

★★★★
Summerhall @ Tom Fleming Centre

To Sleep To Dream

★★★★★
Zoo Southside

Quiet Violence

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Dr Martin Luther King, Jr retires to room 306 in the Lorraine Motel after giving a speech to a Memphis Church congregation during the sanitation workers’ strike. When a mysterious young hotel maid comes to visit him during the night, King is forced to confront his mortality and the future of his people.

Most Popular See More

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Lion King

From £45.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Everybody's Talking About Jamie

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £31.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £13.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £25.00

More Info

Find Tickets