The play tells about the story that the butcher You Hulu borrowed fifteen strings of cash from relatives in Gaoqiao and played a joke on his step-daughter Su Xujuan by saying that this money came from selling her into slavery. Su was scared and escaped to a relative for shelter in secret in the night. It so happened that a spivery gambler Lou Ahshu broke into You’s house, stealing the fifteen strings of cash and killed You with the ax. The neighbor found You was dead later and the money and his step-daughter had gone. He suspected Su Xujuan and Xiong Youlan who just happened to go with her with fifteen strings of cash were murderers, and sent them to Wuxi yamen (government office in feudal China). The magistrate of Wuxi was too subjective to assume that Su and Xiong were sentenced to death wrongly. In the face of sentence, Suzhou prefect Kuangzhong was the supervision of death execution. Kuang found the evidences were not real so he found the clues of the murderer, made a private visit and caught the real murderer Lou Ahshu and until then the case was entirely cleared.
The most apparent difference between this version and other versions in history is that there are five “Lou Ahshu” and five “Kuang Zhong” played by different actors. Besides artists from Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe and Jiangsu Kunqu Opera Troupe (another is Shanghai Kunqu Opera Troupe Miao Bin), Zhejiang Kunqu Opera Troupe has six artists on the stage, playing “Shi (Wang Shiyao and Zhang Shizheng), Sheng(Tao Weiming and Tao Bo), Xiu(Cheng Weibin), Wan(Tian Yang)”Four generations of actors and actresses will be performing together on the same stage this time, which has a profound memorable significance.
(To Be Continued)