Though its anachronistic language and outdated sentiments make it a hot potato for the literal-minded, Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a sort of prototypical American road-trip story, with the Mississippi standing in for the endless asphalt ribbon. Huck and Jim’s yearning for freedom—from slavery, from poverty, from hypocrisy—is as resonant as ever.
For this staging of Huck Finn, the Children’s Theatre Company brings back Greg Banks, who directed CTC’s last version of this show in 2007 (as well as previous favorites Romeo and Juliet, Antigone, and Robin Hood).
The cast this time out will be familiar to those who saw the last go-round: Ansa Akyea as Jim, Dean Holt as Huck. But while the contours are the same, I expect Banks and company to give a fresh look and a different energy to what was a favorite in the previous telling. It’s certainly no small matter that events in America since then have sharpened the focus on our legacy of race, poverty, violence, and opportunity in ever-increasing urgency—not to mention complexity and the need for art, ideas, and understanding if we’re ever going to see it all through together.
I remember a lurch in my chest when I saw 2007’s Huck Finn. It was from a moment of connection between the escaped slave and the penniless delinquent, the two sharing a deep love and faith in one another amid danger, inequity, ignorance, and desperation. It was tender, resonant, and followed quickly by laughter—the qualities that make this great adventure plausible and compelling.
Children’s Theatre Company, 3/3–4/4