However, hidden in his ridiculousness are some logical questions: “What comes next?/You’ve been freed/Do you know how hard it is to lead?” As he concludes, they’re on their own. Of course, this somber conclusion is undercut by his flipping up his hands dismissively as he strides off. His third number “I Know Him” has the king express astonishment that Washington has stepped down, clearly a jarring shocker for many born to power: “I wasn’t aware that was something a person could do,” he says, bewildered, emphasizing his own lack of greatness.
With his usual juvenile smirking, he adds, “They will tear each other into pieces/Jesus Christ, this will be fun!” He concludes, “President John Adams, good luck,” implying nothing of the sort, and then finally plonks himself in a chair onstage and watches the political show to follow, his role as outsider commentator complete. (Though he does dance in time with the next song and with the Reynolds Pamphlet scan-dal, to the audience’s delight.)
As he watches the musical, the fourth wall wobbles once more. His “oceans rise, empires fall” appears in all three songs as a chorus, stressing how the king is barely affected by this rebellion. Even his tune never varies, nor does his message. While the heroes grow and change, he remains a static motionless pillar, much like a royal painting. His presence is yet another contrast, reminding the revolutionaries there are consequences to their choices but mostly providing sarcastic commentary from an outsider’s perspective. No longer responsible for the colonies, he can reflect on all the mistakes they’re making and point out all they’ve abandoned, even as they charge ahead.
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