In the first play, SUMMER MORNING VISITOR, a young man of Southern background but Northern sympathies agonizes over which side to join in the growing conflict that will become the Civil War. Befriended by a young Missouri woman whose husband is with the Union forces, he (young Sam Clemens) is introduced to a nosy neighbor as a long-absent brother and, in this guise, he sends his new friend a witty letter after his departure explaining the unexpected way in which he eventually solved his dilemma. (1 man, 2 women.) In the second play, THE TROUBLE BEGINS AT 8, it is five years later and Sam, after some success as a foreign correspondent, is down on his luck. The setting is a rough-and-ready San Francisco saloon, where Sam meets a rowdy friend from his newspaper days who (with some thought of personal profit in mind) talks him into undertaking the lecture tours that in time were to bring him fame and fortune. (3 men, 1 woman.) The third play, A BARBARIAN IN LOVE, finds Sam in Elmira, New York (several years later) and smitten by his best friend's sister. Proposing marriage, he finds that he must first win over her strait-laced and rather pompous father—a task which calls on the full resources of his earthy wit and wisdom. (2 men, 1 woman.) In the final play, THE LONELIEST WAYFARER, we meet the now world famous Mark Twain in his later years. A widower living in Hartford, Connecticut, his tranquillity is disturbed by a rather slippery young runaway who could be Sam himself in his youth and who the wise old man slyly cajoles into accepting the responsibilities he thought he was about to escape. (2 men.)
Inspired by episodes in the life of Samuel Clemens (better known as Mark Twain) these four skillfully written plays capture the sly humor and warm compassion that were hallmarks of this great writer's style. Designed to be presented as an interrelated program, the plays can also be produced separately with equal effectiveness.