theSpaceTriplex (Studio), Edinburgh
Christopher Tajah’s Dream of a King is a tribute to Martin Luther King Jr, possibly the world’s most beloved civil rights activist, whose dedication to peaceful protest rightly earned him a Nobel Prize. King effected many changes in his life, not just to the law but also to the hearts and minds of many stirred by his speeches. It seems fitting, fifty years later, with racism on the rise, to be reminded why his words mattered. And Christopher Tajah’s impassioned performance is perfectly pitched to do just that.
We’re with King in his motel room on the night of his assassination, the tragedy foreshadowed at the start of the play. He doesn’t know what’s in store for him; he’s tired, anxious, determined to find a way to temper the more violently-inclined protesters allied to his cause. The FBI are following him, he’s sure; he has enemies everywhere. But he knows that his fight is crucial, and he cannot give it up.
He reminisces; gives us snippets of his famous speeches; flinches every time the phone rings. We learn not just about the famous leader, but about the man and all his flaws. The monologue is interspersed with moving spirituals, sung with poise and elegance by Paulette Tajah.
If at times the script is a little expositional, I think this can be overlooked, because here we have an informed piece of theatre, delivered with real skill and heart.