The reviews are in for Penumbra’s ‘The Mountaintop’

On April 3, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. gave what was to be his final speech, remembered as his “mountaintop” speech. The next day he was assassinated while standing on the balcony of his hotel in Memphis, Tenn.

Katori Hall’s play “The Mountaintop” imagines what the final hours of King’s life might have been like, centering around his conversation with a hotel maid.

Penumbra Theatre‘s production of the play runs through April 19 at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

Two critics found this show refreshing, but one critic says the show reaches “beyond its grasp.”

Erika LaVonn and James T. Alfred in Penumbra Theatre’s Company’s “The Mountaintop.”
(Photo by Tim Fuller)

From John Olive at HowWasTheShow.com:

Are you, like me, tired of the all the shallow hagiographic portrayals of Martin Luther King floating around?  The Mountaintop offers a real antidote to all this.  Who’d’ve thought it would be possible to explore this man in fresh, fascinating ways?  Katori Hall, clearly… Suffice it to say that The Mountaintop will surprise and amaze you, that Katori Hall has enough tricks up her dramaturgical sleeve to keep you firmly planted on the edge of you seat.  The two performers are more than equal to the play.  See it.

Penumbra Theatre’s “The Mountaintop” runs through April 19 at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.
(Photo by Tim Fuller)

From Rohan Preston at the Star Tribune:

[James T.] Alfred’s King is a man who, in the end, is governed and conducted by holy spirits. “Mountaintop,” whose single hotel room set is designed by Vicki Smith and whose crackling thunder soundscape was created by Martin Gwinup, delivers us into a world where a man wrestles with conflicts of faith and flesh. In that sense, the play is as much a drama of imagined historical proportions as it is a parable of the civil rights era. And King, the ardent dreamer, comes off as both more human and more iconic.

James T. Alfred is Martin Luther King, Jr in Katori Hall’s “The Mountaintop.”
(Photo by Tim Fuller)

From Dominic P. Papatola at the Pioneer Press:

The reach of “The Mountaintop” frequently goes beyond its grasp, and for every three instances of inspired dialogue, there’s a clunker or a cliche that makes you roll your eyes. Director Lou Bellamy’s unsteadily paced production ends with a cosmic bang designed to make you overlook the flaws of the script. And it nearly works — almost making you forget that “The Mountaintop” is a play that requires tolerance but doesn’t offer much of it in return.

Have you seen “The Mountaintop?” What’s your review?