The Mountaintop – Review

Mountaintop

KEVIN HANCHARD (Martin Luther King, Jr.) and BERYL BAIN (Camae) in The Mountaintop. Photo by Trudie Lee.

 

The Mountaintop

March 25 – April 20, 2014

Max Bell Theatre

http://www.theatrecalgary.com/plays/the_mountaintop/more_info/

Listen to my review on CBC’s Calgary Eyeopener at 

http://www.cbc.ca/eyeopener/columnists/theatre/2014/03/31/jessica-goldman-on-the-mountaintop/

 

RATING

I’m far too conflicted about this one to break it down into neat categories. So instead let’s look at the positives and negatives of this show:

On the plus side – Killer performances are the major draw for this production. Both actors tear up the stage and are thrilling to watch despite the script betraying them in the end. The  first 50 minutes or so in this fictional account of Dr King’s last night on earth is an entertaining (if a bit thin) piece of theatre deftly directed by Jan Alexandra Smith that while not revelatory, has several satisfying themes and arcs to keep our attention.

Where it falls apart – After the BIG plot twist is revealed, things go downhill quickly. Once the surprise wears off, the play begins to drag seemingly not knowing how to wind down. Then when it does end, it is such a mess and so out of step with the rest of the show that it almost makes us forget what we liked about the play to begin with. Here we have writing that lacks confidence and direction that is both overly dramatic and shallow.

SEE IT or SKIP IT? – The good is great, the bad is awful. Enjoyment of this show depends on how full you view your half glass.

 

 

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3 comments

  1. Jessica Rabbit · March 31, 2014

    So…is the direction deft or overly dramatic and shallow? This is not a rhetorical question.

    • Jessica Goldman · April 1, 2014

      Both, that’s the issue. Deft in the first 50 minutes or so (the navigation of a talkie two-hander in a small space with limited avenues for visual interest was very well done) – then it goes totally off the rails. As I said, this production feels like two completely different plays mashed together with an unfortunate outcome.

  2. Theatre Lover · April 14, 2014

    Not at all sure where you are coming from with this review. I saw the show over the weekend with several friends. We expected a disappointing evening after hearing your review. Instead, we were left in awe of this brilliant production.
    Pre-“reveal” and post-“reveal” the play held together remarkably well. It left us with a renewed sense of civic responsibility and hope for the future of mankind.
    The lone thing that you got right were that the performances were absolutely breath taking. Not sure where they find the strength to do that night after night.
    Kudos to them and kudos to Theatre Calgary for a thrilling night of theatre.

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