Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Cleveland & Akron

The Mountaintop
Cleveland Play House
Review by David Ritchey


Ro Boddie and Angel Moore
Photo by Roger Mastrioanni
The Mountaintop at Cleveland Play House is a stunning script grown into a spectacular production.

The Cleveland Play House celebrates its 100th anniversary and receiving the regional Tony Award with spectacular productions. The Mountaintop continues the theater's celebration of quality theater.

The Mountaintop is set in Room 306 in the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. The date is April 3, 1968, the day before the murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. But this 90-minute play doesn't predict the future. Katori Hall, the playwright, gently tells a story.

The viewer needs to divide the script into two sections. First, this is a well written story of a man calling for room service and the sassy young woman who brings a tray with coffee. They talk. And the script is a fictional retelling of the last night of King's life. No one knows everything that happened on the last night of his life, but the playwright weaves together much that we know about King into a fascinating story.

King (Bo Boddie) simply wants a pot of coffee and some help constructing a speech. He asks room service for coffee—but, no, room service is closed. Almost immediately, Camae (Angel Moore) is at the door with a tray of coffee and a cute sassy style. Camae isn't impressed she's brought coffee to King. In fact, she quickly starts telling him how to run the civil rights campaign. They banter, joke and flirt.

The playwright gently leads the audience to one of the most stunning final scenes in American theater.

This script has already received London's Olivier Award. Hall's choice of words and arrangement of scenes are perfect. In this production, the script is helped by two talented actors.

Bo Boddie doesn't look or sound like Martin Luther King, Jr. But he evokes King and becomes the man. Moore brings a cute serving gal to the scene. She is everything we would want in a waitress and much, much more.

Wilson Chin (scenic designer) created a room in a modestly priced hotel. But, suddenly flowers grow out of the floor and the beds turn on a large turntable. Chin's ordinary set becomes something glorious to behold.

Carl Cofield (director) leads the production into a respectful approach to King. But he keeps King a human being with the strengths and flaws of a mortal.

It's impossible to discuss the last half of the script without telling too much. Hall is a great playwright because she is able to combine the two parts of the script and make the unbelievable true. The Mountaintop is an intellectual, emotional production what will leave the audience thinking about more than where they parked the car.

The Cleveland Play House is offering The Mountaintop in the Outcalt Theatre through February 14, 2016. For ticket information, call 1-216-241-7000 or visit www.clevelandplayhouse.com.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.: Bo Boddie
Camae: Angel Moore
Scenic Designer: Wilson Chin
Costume Designer: Lex Liang
Lighting Designer: Alan C. Edwards
Director Carl Cofield