They flirt, drink, and chain smoke, their sharp dialogue sizzles, and Hall's touching portrait flatters in its refusal to deify King. Both actors, directed by Patricia McGregor, deliver superb performances; Vann deserves choreography credit for articulating nearly every line with a foot pivot, flick of a wrist, or saucy wink.
But because of a continuing strike by Philadelphia Theatre Company stagehands, the production is missing much of the vital stagecraft required by Hall's script.
At one point, the atmosphere should shift in an instant from the stark realism of Matt Saunders' set to a vivid spiritual landscape, but the potent sound, lighting, and projections that should accompany the shift instead are spoken as stage directions by actress Cathy Simpson from the front of the stage.
Flowers should have bloomed through the floor, fingers should have grasped through the motel-room door, and lightning and thunder should have raged across the set as harbingers of the next day's doom. In their place, words - anemic, colorless words - let us know what we would have seen in a fully realized production.
Because of this absence of staging, we in Philadelphia won't know all the power that lies within The Mountaintop. For the sake of its arts-loving audiences, let's hope for a resolution to the standoff before PTC mounts its next production, Theresa Rebeck's Seminar, in March.
Through Feb. 17 at Suzanne Roberts Theatre, Broad and Locust Streets. Tickets: $46. 215-985-0420 or philadelphiatheatercompany.org