Shows K

The dinner is a great success; Tuptim's entertainment, a ballet entitled The Small House of Uncle Thomas (an outstanding feature of the score) will be her last act in Siam because Lun Tha has arranged an escape immediately afterwards, so they will be together for ever (I Have Dreamed). The 'subversive' message of the ballet's story worries the King momentarily, but Sir Edward's compliments and generous endorsement of his regime give the King great satisfaction. The plan has worked. The King and Anna, alone, congratulate each other and in the mood of celebration he asks her to teach him the polka (Shall We Dance?) As they dance, we see how the growing friendship is rapidly ripening into sexual attraction, but the mood is shattered when news comes that Lun Tha and Tuptim have been caught escaping. The secret police kill him, and the King, suddenly no longer a Westernised monarch, prepares to punish Tuptim with the whip. Anna upbraids him for this regression to barbarism, which has spoiled everything he has been striving to achieve. His arm falls, the whip drops, but he realises that his absolute power has evaporated and he flees the room, a broken man. Anna realises that she has so humiliated the King that she must leave Siam, but she is stopped from embarking by a note from him - he expresses his gratitude for all she has done, but says he is dying. Shocked, she returns to the Palace and finds him on his deathbed surrounded by wives and children, who now beg Anna not to leave them. She is deeply moved and realises how much she loves them and how much they need her. The dying King commands her to take notes from his eldest son, Prince Chulalongkorn, who will be the new King. The Prince, who has learned his lessons well from Anna, announces that there will no more bowing and scraping before him, but as his father dies and all present prostrate themselves, their obeisance is not only to the dead King but to the new one. CHARACTERS - Cast: 4 men, 3 women, 2 boys, chorus • Anna Leonowens - A young widow, in whose heart the pain of bereavement is still very strong. She is compassionate but business-like, and - almost - completely undaunted by the regal magnificence of her employer. She is presented in word, deed and song as an entirely sympathetic person. • Louis Leonowens - Her young teenage son, keen to acclimatise to the strange lifestyle at an Eastern Court and fiercely fond of his mother. • The Kralahome - The Prime Minister. A hard and bigoted official who obviously cannot understand why his master is flirting with Western ideas. • The King - He deserves our admiration for his efforts in trying to come to terms with Western ideas and ways of life, but the conflict between Eastern and Western values, combined with his inbred sense of being a Supreme Ruler, ultimately destroys him • Lady Thiang - Wise, composed and understanding, she can see clearly both sides of the King's nature and thus of her country's standing in the world. • Tuptim & Lun Tha - Star-crossed lovers who are pawns in the game of the giant rulers of the Far East. • Prince Chulalongkorn - The heir to the throne, whose mixture of filial piety and awareness of the need to change are partly a result of Anna's teaching and partly inherited from both his parents. • Sir Edward Ramsay - Anna's old flame and an important player in the diplomatic game for the friendship of Siam. SCENES AND SETTINGS: The Play is Divided into Two Acts. The Action Passes in and Around the King's Palace, Bangkok, Siam. Time: Early Eighteen Sixties.