Everyman Theatre’s production of Shipwrecked! certainly lives up to its lengthy subtitle: An Entertainment. The Amazing Adventures of Louis De Rougement (As Told By Himself). I caught a recent show, and it was, indeed, entertaining and amazing.
Written by Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Donald Margulies and based on a true story, it finds Louis De Rougement recounting an extraordinary tale about how he left behind Victorian London for globetrotting voyages on the high seas. The tale—which is beautifully told by Everyman company member Bruce Nelson (pictured above), with major assists from Everyman’s Clinton Brandhagen and Tuyet Thi Pham (both playing multiple roles)—involves diving for pearls, eluding a man-eating octopus, surviving a shipwreck, being washed ashore, riding on the backs of sea turtles, joining an aboriginal tribe, doing battle with other tribes, and, eventually, finding a way home to England.
After his return, the story is serialized in a magazine, becomes a huge sensation, and earns De Rougement a fortune. But people begin questioning his truthfulness, and the chorus of doubt swells to cacophonous venom. After such a riveting tale, the finger pointing comes across as shrill and mean-spirited, and it’s hard not to empathize with the protagonist—especially because the piece doesn’t resolve so much as it richly underscores the value of a well told story AND an evening of excellent theater.
In fact, when the play ended, the fellow next to me exclaimed, "That was perfect!"
See it while you can—Shipwrecked closes this Sunday.
[photo: Stan Barouh]