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The Mountaintop at the Young Vic

Published 13 October 2016

What’s it all about?

Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop was last in London in 2009, at the Trafalgar Studios, and went on to win the Olivier Award for Best New Play. Now revived at The Young Vic, it’s a fictional account of an evening in 1968, the day before Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Set in a hotel room in Memphis, a visibly drained Dr. King has just finished delivering his ‘I’ve been to the mountaintop’ speech. Enter Camae, a feisty, cussing maid. As flirtatious talk turns to more serious debate, it is revealed that Camae knows much more about Dr. King than she’s letting on, and all is not as it appears.  

Who’s in it?

Never leaving the intimate hotel room set is Gbolahan Obisesan and Ronke Adekoluejo. Ronke is wonderful as the smart and sexy Camae, and Gbolahan nails the side of Dr. King that that we are given access to – the flawed, chain-smoking, self-doubting man – yet remains wholly believable as the preacher and activist who delivers powerful speeches and leads marches.

What should I look out for?

The shift in the play when Camae’s true identity is revealed in an unexpected twist. Whilst becoming far more intense and focussed, Katori’s writing never loses its humorous touch, an impressive feat given the topics of God, death, and equality.

The final scene, as, against a backdrop of powerful images, Camae takes the audience through iconic moments in US history, from Dr. King’s assassination right up to the present day Presidential battle between Trump and Clinton. It’s impossible not to be deeply moved, and sobered by quite how far we still have to go in the battle for equality and peace.

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In a nutshell?

Simultaneously devastating and joyful, The Mountaintop is a profound and important play that will stay with you long after leaving the theatre.

Information on tickets for the show can be found on The Young Vic website.

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