The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Italia Conti Ensemble returns to the Festival Fringe with their second-year students again split into two groups, each with its own choice of play. This production of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn takes Matthew Francis' adaptation of the classic tale and reformats it to suit their own highly distinctive style.

For Italia Conti Ensemble this is a showcase production in which their remarkable talents are exhibited to the full.

Twain’s original narrative is a complex tangle of events and incidents encompassing a long journey up the Mississippi. The play’s 1996 premiere performance at the Greenwich Theatre lasted three hours, no doubt with an interval. To reduce all of this to one hour, and include original songs, is a challenge that the Italia Conti Ensemble takes on with their usual bravado. Always able to impress with their full-cast tableaux, the opening scene is in progress as the audience enters. Worshippers are in church, seated in rows with backs to the audience. Facing his congregation, the pastor leads them in prayer; a reminder that we are in the bible belt, with God-fearing people and slave owners. This dim, sombre scene is in stark contrast to bright light of the southern sun that bathes the rest of the action.

The pace soon quickens and the action heats up as Huck begins his journey. Finding his way through the ever-changing set is one of his challenges. The play was designed with flexibility in mind and the cast shows effortless ability in deftly moving boxes and bits to create homes, caves, a theatre and outdoor locations. The transformation of the bathtub to a boat was particularly ingenious, but just one example of accomplished staging. As his journey progresses, Huck meets an array of people. Actors plucked from the ensemble assume various roles and, irrespective of age, gender or colour, they create the old and the young, the brutal and the comic, the compassionate and the clumsy. They all have fine speaking and singing voices; delivery is clear and the sound crisp. The performance is rapid, but they also manage to slow it down for more pensive scenes and never lose their sense of timing.

There could be quibbles about trying to condense so much into the sixty-minute slot and the subsequent loss of narrative content or about the play not fully exposing the grim life of slaves on southern plantations. The former actually demonstrates considerable skill and the latter is not of their making. For Italia Conti Ensemble this is a showcase production in which their remarkable talents are exhibited to the full. The play is merely a vehicle. It should carry them to many more outstanding successes. 

Reviews by Richard Beck

503 Theatre St

Foxes

★★★★★
Queen's Theatre Hornchurch

The Witchfinder’s Sister

★★
The Hope Theatre

Rat King

★★★★
Brockley Jack Theatre

The Idea

★★★
Young Vic Theatre

Hamlet

★★★
Finborough Theatre

How to Survive an Apocalypse

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

The Italia Conti Ensemble presents Matthew Francis' adaptation of the classic tale of Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. A dark, witty and unmissable production incorporating music.

Most Popular See More

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Anything Goes

From £42.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Life of Pi

From £19.00

More Info

Find Tickets