Shows B

They float down the river on the raft, narrowly escaping capture and a collision with a steamboat, and drift in a fog past the mouth of the Ohio, which was their route to freedom, Huck and Jim spend what will turn out to be their lost moments alone together singing of the beauty of life on the river. “River In the Rain” An diversion arrives in the form of the King and the Duke, a couple of con artists who commandeer the craft while escaping from an angry mob. Immediately they begin practising their shenanigans on each other. “There’s sheep to be shorn all up and down this river,” says the King, dreaming of new ways to fleece ignorant townspeople. He and the Duke sing “When the Sun Goes Down in the South” drawing Huck into their circle, leaving Jim with the memory of “Muddy Water”. The second act opens with the King, Duke and Huck going ashore of Bricktown, Arkansas to exact their first fraud. The Duke, moving among the townspeople to announce the evening’s great theatrical spectacle, appeals to their prurient interest with a song about the acclaimed, if rather salacious, Royal Nonesuch. “What’s a Nonesuch?” asks one of the townsfolk. “Well,” says the Duke, launching into his rhyme-a-second patter song, “She’s got one big breast in the middle of her chest, and an eye in the middle of her nose.” By the end of the evening, the locals have been taken for several hundred dollars and Huck is beginning to discover a new way of life. When he finally gets back to the raft, he is still in a mischievous mood and plays a trick on Jim, pretending to be a slave hunter. Jim, not amused, rebukes Huck for the first time. Huck, after reflecting on the matter, admits that Jim is a human being who is owed on apology. Jim, accepts the apology but recognises the wide space that exists even between good friends of different races. They sing “Worlds Apart.” Huck, of course, is never allowed to slip too for back into his natural humanity, as the King and Duke reappear to draft him into their next scheme. Jim is left once again on the raft while the three others go oft in search of profitable adventures. They immediately encounter a Young Fool on a dock singing the praises of Arkansas. The Fool inadvertently fells them everything they ever want to know about a fortune to be inherited because of a death in the Wilkes family. The King and Duke waste no time presenting themselves at the Wilkes’ house as the rightful heirs. In the middle of one of the funeral hymns, “How Blest We Are,” they set about perpetrating their nefarious activities. When Huck sees the beautiful, and innocent, Mary June Wilkes is being robbed of everything by these rapscallions, he steals back her money from the King and Duke. When Mary June herself appears, he hurriedly stuffs the bag of gold in her father’s coffin and hides behind it. She sings an ironic love song to the corpse, “You Oughta Be Here With Me.” Mary Jane, upon discovering what Huck has done for her, asks him to stay awhile and become her friend. He is deeply moved, but also realises his responsibility to Jim. With Huck standing at centre stage, halfway between Mary Jane and Jim, the three sing “Leavings Not the Only Way to Go”. Returning to the raft, Huck finds, not Jim, but a tarred and feathered Duke, who admits he has sold Jim back into slavery for 40 dollars, After the Duke stumbles away, Huck begins to feel guilty about what he has done. He writes a letter to Miss Watson, telling her where she can find her runaway slave, and for a moment feels better. But it isn’t long before he feels worse than ever. He tears up the letter, declaring, “All right then, I’ll go to hell.” He is going to free Jim from captivity, the consequences be damned, and expresses his resolution “Waitin’ For the Light To Shine”. At this point the plot takes more fast turns than there are in the Mississippi, and in one of the most surprising of them, Tom Sawyer shows up and decides to help Huck steal Jim from his captors. Jim is imprisoned in a tiny cell. His heartbreaking anthem, “Free At Last”. Before Huck and Jim go there separate ways at the end of the play - Jim up North to buy his family out of slavery, Huck out West to get away from any attempts to “civilise” him - they sit for a few moments by the bank of the river, recalling their adventures together, even remembering a little bit of “River In the Rain”. Then Jim leaves and Huck is alone once more, thinking of their journey. “It was like the fortune Jim predicted long ago,” he says, “Considerable trouble and considerable joy.”