In 2016, Roy Alexander Weise, now Joint Artistic Director of the Royal Exchange, directed this powerful play at the Young Vic. And during the pandemic, in June 2020, the production was streamed live from the Royal Exchange via the theatre’s YouTube channel.
Now 15 months on, Roy Alexander Weise makes his Royal Exchange debut with a brand-new production of this stunning and insightful play. Starring ‘Tomiwa Edun, best known for his role as Sir Elyan in the BBC fantasy drama Merlin, and Manchester School of Theatre graduate Ntombizodwa Ndlovu, the play gets to grips with themes of race and class, leadership and responsibility, and gender and politics.
The Mountaintop is set during the height of America’s Civil Rights Movement; Edun takes the role of Dr Martin Luther King and Ndlovu plays a maid that he talks to, the night before his assassination in 1968. Set in room 306 of the Lorraine Motel, Memphis, Tennessee, in the time after giving what was his final address, Dr Martin Luther King Jr is forced to confront his beliefs, hopes and dreams. And what first appears as a simple conceit – two people having a conversation in a motel room – reveals far more than we could ever anticipate.
Perhaps now in 2021, as we continue to challenge and battle against so much uncertainty, this incisive two-hander seems more relevant than ever.