Tricia Stiller/review | SoDo Theatre's 'Mountaintop' features honest performances

Tricia Stiller/review | SoDo Theatre's 'Mountaintop' features honest performances

In his final speech, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. addressed his followers and inspired them to "stand with a greater determination," to "move on, in these powerful days of challenge, and make America what It ought to be."

On the very next day, April 4, 1968, King was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.

Playwright Katori Hall has eloquently crafted a fictional imagining King's last night in her powerful one act, "The Mountaintop," now playing at Champaign's SoDo Theatre.

Hall's script supposes that King, in the wee hours of a sleepless night, has a vision that predicts that his life will soon end. That vision presents itself to him in the form of a trash-talking maid named Camae, who arrives at his door with his room service tray.

Camae and King have an instant, easy chemistry, as he reveals to her his fears, his flaws and his humanness.

Through the course of their encounter, Camae helps King prepare for and accept his fate — she has been sent to bring him to his heavenly home.

Directed by Dustin Yocum, "The Mountaintop" features profound and honest performances by Kimmy Schofield as Camae and Cedric Jones as King.

Schofield is multifaceted, displaying a playful flirtation that concealed a deeply rooted anger and frustration, skillfully dancing from one to the next.

Jones carries the burdens of King with an understanding and compassion that is stirring.

The simple hotel room set and impressive special effects add the finishing touches to this solid production.

It has been said that in his last speech, often referred to as "The Mountaintop Speech," King's tone indicated that he did somehow know that he was running out of time.

Perhaps this passage was at the center of that theory: "Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will."

Tricia Stiller is the downtown division manager for Bloomington Community Development and is the artistic director for Bloomington's Summer Theatre Program.

Topics (1):Theater