Not all is as it seems in Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel.
It's April 3, 1968, and Martin Luther King Jr. has just returned to the room. He is mentally spent, having just delivered his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" address at Mason Temple in Memphis.
The people looked at him with hope, as if he were a god.
But King wasn't a deity. He was a 39-year-old man, and his mortality was fast catching up to him. He didn't know it, but that night would be among his final hours.
No one knows what King thought or said on that night, so Katori Hall imagined it when writing "The Mountaintop." But her imagination veered into the magic that will unfold on the Reilly Theatre stage when Swine Palace opens the play Nov. 8.
Director Femi Euba and his two-actor cast, Curtis Wiley as King and Sara Osi Scott as the mysterious hotel maid Camae, can offer only clues when talking about the story.
To say more would be too much.
"It's difficult to explain the play without giving it away," Wiley says. "There's so much the audience doesn't know, and it's revealed later."
Hall's play has been subtitled, "A Magical Vision of the Last Night in the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr." Yet the magic is tainted by something the audience knows.
King will die from a gunshot wound on the balcony outside Room 306 at 6:01 p.m. the next day. King has premonitions of death but proclaims he's not ready to die.
He makes this proclamation to Camae, who has brought food and a newspaper to his room, and who seems to have other-worldly knowledge about King's fate.
She's not a soothsayer, but she's not simply a hotel maid, either.
"She really isn't what she seems," says Scott, a student in the LSU School Theatre's master of fine arts program. "She is there for a purpose, too."
Wiley is a professional actor based in New York. "The Mountaintop" is his second time to play King after his role as the civil rights icon in the 2013 off-Broadway run of "The Great Society."
And though he doesn't give away "The Mountaintop's" big reveal, Wiley does talk about some of King's contemplations.
"He's beginning to think about his way of protesting," Wiley says. "He's always supported peaceful protests, but now he's thinking that he might be wrong, that Malcolm X may have been right about militant protests."
And Camae identifies more with Malcolm X when talking with King.
"She has a raw view of the world," Scott says. "She's had a troubled life, and she's more militant-minded. She uses her tactics to help Dr. King and break down his exterior."
Euba points out that King also is suffering from a personal struggle.
"He's a man of God, but he's also human," Euba says. "He has to come to terms with both. He's just given this speech, and he's coming down from the euphoria of it. His two sides complement each other."
"Through the years, we've come to see Dr. King as this almost mythical figure, but we don't see him that way in this play," Wiley says. "He was 39 years old, and he didn't see himself as a demigod. He was a young man, and he wasn't ready to die because he still had so much to do."
Camae also has a mission, which potentially is mistaken for something else at first, but the truth is revealed not only for her but for King before the play's end.
And the audience isn't expecting it.
A Swine Palace production
WHEN: Nov. 8-10, 12, 14-19. Performances 7:30 p.m.; Sunday matinees 2 p.m.
WHERE: Reilly Theatre, Tower Drive, LSU Campus.
TICKETS/INFO: Pay-what-you-can on Nov. 8; $12 for Nov. 9 preview performance; $14-$29 all other performances. (225) 578-3527 or swinepalace.org. Tickets also are available at the door.