Katori Hall's "The Mountaintop" opens at Circuit Playhouse



Katori Hall, expressive and aggressive

It seems like ages since I met Katori Hall in Hell's Kitchen for gourmet pie and good conversation. The Mountaintop had just won the Olivier for best new play, but the Broadway production hadn't yet been cast. Even then she understood the risks one takes making an iconic figure like Dr. Martin Luther King the central character in your play. And she knew American audiences might not show her play the same kind of love she'd gotten from the Brits.

As she predicted, The Mountaintop's Broadway premiere received mixed reviews. But, to borrow an idea from the show, there's life after the curtain goes down on Broadway, and in a recent communication Hall offered audiences this sound advice:

""Great drama is about human beings clashing onstage and not ideas or myths," Hall says. "The Mountaintop deals with the man and not the myth. It is about this man named King, excavating his internal demons, wrestling with his God, just like Jacob did in the Bible before he goes to Canaan. This is a spiritual trip for King and for the audience. The more people understand that's the kind of ride they are on, the more open they will be to this interpretation of King's last night on earth."

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