What did Martin Luther King Jr. do the night before he was assassinated? Did he have a drink, pick up a girl, pray, cogitate, read, write, practice his next speech, hit the pillow early? Whatever activities occupied his time in room 306 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 3, 1968, they probably didn't involve an hour-plus tête-à-tête with a mysterious and impassioned maid, whose coffee delivery results in momentous soul-searching. But Katori Hall's play The Mountaintop makes no claims to fidelity, and it's this fictional scenario that has helped turned a real-life prologue to tragedy into a magical-realist theatrical experiment. Hall's version of Dr. King is half-sick when he finally reaches his place of slumber, having just delivered his superlative "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, one that eerily suggested his imminent demise. He inspects the room for listening devices, paranoid for good reason; he was as much a problem for J. Edgar Hoover and the U.S. government as he was for any crazed racist with a firearm. As this twisty piece continues, thanks to the intervention by the maid, King's biography is explored and his politic ideology is put to the test. Samuel L. Jackson, presumably jettisoning 12-letter curse words, famously played the King role on Broadway; for GableStage's South Florida premiere, a remarkably MLK-resembling C. Anthony Clarkson takes the iconic part, alongside Karen Stephens.
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