The Garry Marshall Theatre Presents “The Mountaintop”

The Garry Marshall Theatre Presents “The Mountaintop” – Written by Katori Hall. Directed by Gregg T. Daniel.

February 6 through March 10, Friday & Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm
The Garry Marshall Theatre, 4252 West Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA, 91505

Katori Hall is one of the most celebrated playwrights of her generation. 

She has earned multiple awards and numerous prestigious fellowships in support of her work. Now that I have seen one of her plays, I can truly understand why.

“The Mountaintop” is set on the evening before the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He is alone in his room at the Lorraine Motel having sent his friend to the store for more cigarettes.  While he waits for his return, he is visited by a young woman, a maid named Camae, who brings him the coffee he ordered from the motel room service.

Mountaintop 2

What happens next is the kind of effortless and deeply meaningful writing that makes a masterpieces. Dr. King and this majestic maid talk, they spar, they smoke, they flirt and, in the very best tradition of the most magical of realisms, we are drawn into their strange and poetic relationship.  This wonderful playwright has chosen carefully this particularly painful moment in time, a moment that continues to echo stronger than ever in this land and all others.  This brutal and retrospectively inevitable act broke open the civil rights movement and our hearts in such a fundamental way that we as a nation have never recovered…and many would say we never should.

Dr. King was a leader, a gifted and inspiring speaker, a hero, but he was also a man, full of flaws, fears and his own trepidation.  This astonishingly beautiful play seeks to give him to us at his most fragile, his most raw and his most true.  We watch as he begins to understand why he is in that motel room with this particular maid on this particular night and it is a revelation.

To tell you more would be to open up this precious gift for you and I will not do that.  But I will tell you this, I have never been so moved, so deeply touched, so very thankful to sit in my seat in a darkened theatre…barely breathing.

One can never bare witness enough to this man and his astonishing moment in our collective history, but this finely wrought and achingly beautiful play goes further than anything yet to give gravitas and greatness to it.

The performances are equally impressive.  Gilbert Glenn Brown is powerful, moving and stunningly honest as Dr King.  Carolyn Ratteray plays the maid Camae with a grace, humor and a sense of awe at her own purpose and creation that gave me chills. They both made me weep of course, their presence, those mystical and marvelous words of Katori Hall and the skill of director Gregg T. Daniel, to allow all that preternaturally prodigious glory to exist at once on stage and make sensational sense.

I must admit to being a little gobsmacked by this play at first, it took me a couple of days to fully digest it, appreciate it, roll it around in my mind over and over before I could then attempt to put into words how phenomenal it is.

I hope you see it. I think everyone on the planet should see it. 

We are lucky enough to have The Mountaintop at the wonderful Garry Marshall Theatre for a few glorious weeks and I urge you to take advantage of that good fortune and spend a couple of hours with Dr. King and Camae at the Lorraine Motel on a fateful rainy night in Memphis.

February 6 through March 10, Friday & Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 3pm

The Garry Marshall Theatre, 4252 West Riverside Drive, Burbank, CA, 91505

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a Theatre and Food Writer and Filmmaker living in Los Angeles.