Full Synopsis

The Likes of Us

The show opens at the Edinburgh Castle Gin Palace, an East End drinking establishment. Rose, the proverbial prostitute with a heart of gold, sings about her career. (“Twice in Love”)

Barnardo has ventured into the East End with the doomed intention of selling Bibles. The intellectual and driven Barnardo finds himself quite out of place with the cockneys of the Edinburgh Castle, and a row between them ensues. (“A Very Busy Man”). The result is that Barnardo is thrown out of the Edinburgh Castle. He meets Syrie Elmslie who was also attempting to strengthen the moral fibre of the locals.

Outside of the Edinburgh Castle, Johnny Farthingay assures his girlfriend Jenny that although he can’t buy her expensive presents, their love will keep them together. At first cynical, Jenny agrees with Johnny and the pair decide that although they don’t have riches, their love for each other is all they need. (“Love is Here”)

Troubled by recent events at the Edinburgh Castle, Barnardo introspectively reflects on the course his life is taking. (“A Strange And Lovely Song”). While wandering London’s streets, Barnardo encounters two homeless children. The children tell Barnardo how they must steal and beg to stay alive, and that their only place of refuge is among the rooftops of London. At first reluctant to believe their tale of woe, Barnardo convinces the children to take him to the rooftops so that he can view their conditions for himself. (“The Likes of Us”)

Barnardo is deeply troubled by the conditions in which the children live. He decides that he is needed far more in his own country than in China. Despite uncertainty about what is the best course he should take, Barnardo resolves to stay in London to help the poor children. (“How Am I to Know”)

Unfortunately, Barnardo’s efforts to help only serve to stir a sense of outrage in the local populace who feel he is meddling in their affairs. (“We’ll Get Him”)

Syrie hears of Barnardo’s crusade to improve life for the children and offers her support. She suggests that Barnardo seek the aid of the Prime Minister. Barnardo sets off for Downing Street, and Syrie reflects optimistically on their future. (“This is My Time”)

The politicians at Downing Street feel immensely patriotic when it comes to the great and noble empire that is England. (“Lion-Hearted Land”) As a result, Barnardo offends the cabinet when he attempts to explain that life in London is not bliss for everyone. However, Lord Shaftesbury—who is already a supporter of the underprivileged—is swayed by Barnardo. Lord Shaftesbury accompanies Barnardo to the rooftops to see the children. Appalled by what he witnesses, Lord Shaftesbury promises his support to Barnardo.

The cockneys are even less enthused. (“We’ll Get Him” (Reprise))

The romance between Johnny and Jenny is floundering. (“Love is Here” (Reprise))

Barnardo realises that this route in life he has chosen means that he must depend on himself to be his own ally. (“A Man on His Own”)

End of Act One.

Act Two begins at a later point in time during which Barnardo’s fortunes have taken a dramatic turn for the better. Barnardo has set up his first children’s home, and he and Syrie care for the children. (“You Can Never Make it Alone”)

However, Barnardo has failed to win over his detractors. He has been sued for fraud and a child in his care has died. The East End denizens hold an anti-Barnardo demonstration. (“Hold a March”)

Inevitably, Barnardo and Syrie have fallen in love and hope that their happiness can last. (“Will This Last Forever?”)

Syrie attempts to console Jenny who is distraught as Johnny has ended their romance. (“You Won’t Care About Him Anymore”)

Barnardo is victorious in court and receives money in damages. The Edinburgh Castle is placed up for auction. Barnardo decides to buy it as his ownership will serve to quash the pub’s evil influence and the building can be converted to further his cause. (“Going, Going, Gone!”)

Barnardo and Syrie marry. Their union provides the spark for two of the children to pretend they too will be a couple. (“Man of the World”)

Barnardo converts the public house of the Edinburgh Castle into a tea and coffee only establishment. (“Have Another Cup of Tea”)

Barnardo and Syrie are blissfully happy and discuss their plans for the future in their study at the Edinburgh Castle. (“Strange and Lovely Song” (Reprise))

The show closes with Barnardo and Syrie putting the children to bed. (“The Likes of Us” (Reprise))

By Jennifer J.Bogdanski

© copyright Tim Rice—reproduced by kind permission.

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