By Lisa Steiner
The Mountaintop, Lincoln Community Playhouse, Friday January 27, 2023
As I sit down to write this review, I don’t really even have much to say. I don’t really even want to say much; but not because it doesn’t deserve high praise. This is not an example of “if you don’t have anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” The fact of the matter is that The Mountaintop at Lincoln Community Playhouse is truly powerful, smart, and humanizing theatre, and all I want you to know is that you should go see it. It is a must-see. Do not miss this play.
The writing is clever, delightful, funny, devastating, and commanding. The performances given by Max Antoine as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and Myeisha Essex as King’s maid, Camae, are every bit the same. Max is able to portray King’s prowess as an orator, concern as a family man, a bit of a flirtatious side, and a man facing his destiny as he seems to know how his life will end. Myeisha’s humor and teasing nature are on point and add a perfect contrast to the heavier themes of the play. Seriously, she cracked me up. The two of them together, while their characters are meeting for the first time that night, form an easy bond as they work through King’s aspirations, anxieties, and fears. The direction from Bryan Moore was impactful and engaging. Usually when I’m reviewing a show I take notes. I wrote about three things down and then set my pen aside for the rest of the performance.
There’s not much to write about the technical elements, as they were effectively simple (again, not a negative thing). The set and props had just enough of the mid-century furniture of a modest hotel room. The lighting gave way to the thunderstorms of the night and other key moments. Costumes were well thought out and intentional, allowing the actors to do their thing comfortably. Nothing was distracting and everything supported the script, which is designed to do the heavy lifting in this production.
The only note I would humbly give would be to allow the audience to sit in stillness for another few moments after the final blackout. To just… breathe.
When I came home and got on my laptop to figure out what to say in this review, one of the first things I saw come up in my news feed was that there was bodycam footage of Tyre Nichols’ violent arrest released by Memphis police. It was a haunting reminder of one of the lines in the play. Camae says to King, “You in a relay race … You gone need to pass on that baton.”
See this play. Then pick up the baton.
If you go: The Mountaintop runs Jan. 27-Feb. 5, Fri-Sat at 7:30PM and Sun at 2PM. Ticket information at https://www.lincolnplayhouse.com.
Lisa Steiner is a long-time lover of theater and the arts who enjoys performing, music directing, and filling the role of patron. She has a Bachelor of Music degree from Nebraska Wesleyan University, where she also was a staff writer, layout designer, and production editor for The Reveille newspaper. During the day, Lisa is a case manager for the Department of Health and Human Services. Through this great position, she is able to combine her strengths of working with people and completing paperwork. Lisa also has two cats, Sienna and Lucy, who tolerate each other.
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