By Bob Evans
What happened to Huckleberry Finn after the story of his early and adolescent life ends? Does he find more adventures? Does he meet new and interesting people? Does he just fade into American’s melting pot? Does he go to Indian Territory as he supposes? Does he grow up to become just an adult Huckleberry Finn? Does he lose his innocence and grow old and hard, like Pap?
The creative mind that thought to pair Huckleberry Finn with Peter Pan at last year’s Kansas City Fringe Festival returns with another story (or maybe adventure) to add to the Huckleberry Finn saga. Phil Kinen concocts a unique story that pairs an older Huckleberry Finn with his bastard son, Benjamin. The pairing brings up the questions of how and why Huckleberry Finn evolved in the person predominately known as Finn. The story creates a new character torn between a past he learned about and inner mental, psychological demons that continue to torment his soul.
The play questions fate, inherited natures, pre-disposed family traits, psychological ties, family torment, greed, and devotion. The play gallops through many changes and keeps the audience focused on what unfolds before them and continues to move forward so the audience remains engaged with the action and dialogue.
Two standout performances come from Kansas City actors Greg Butell and Jake Leet. Leet returns to Kinen’s work after appearing last year in his Huck and Peter Pan adventure. This year, the young thespian finds himself paired with a finely-tuned, established actor. Both can be seen throughout the KC metro in a wide variety of plays. Leet finds himself garnering more adult and challenging roles as his acting grows. Butell continues to find, develop, and present unique characters with each changing character. Finn represents one of the larger-than-life characters from Butell in the past few seasons.