One of the most charming productions of the year comes at the very end of the year. SHIPWRECKED! An Entertainment—The Amazing Adventures of Louis De Rougemont (As Told By Himself) is elegantly performed by Moonbox Productions, with the same talented cast alternating evenings in TWELFTH NIGHT, also a tale set into motion by a shipwreck.
SHIPWRECKED’s playwright, Donald Marguiles, creates a larger than life world where a sickly young lad can dream of sea voyages, rugged sailors and strange animals like flying marsupials—then sign on with an eager captain and discover new lands for himself. We sign on, too, hanging on every word the elderly De Rougemont utters. We suspect he may be embellishing the story but he seems so sincere and kind (a tour de force for Kevin Cirone as both the old and the young explorer), that we give ourselves over completely to him.
We appreciate Marguiles’ tongue in cheek reminders here and there that the truth is being stretched or misrepresented entirely (those flying wombats) but this is a NICHOLAS NICKELBY experience and we’re all in. Part of the allure is Allison Olivia Choat’s ingenious staging where everything can become something else in the blink of an eye, as we watch Michael Lin’s “Foley” sound effects come to life (a wind machine, aluminum panels for thunder, etc.). Most impressive is the music (Dan Rodriguez’ department), performed on stage by the extraordinarily versatile cast.
The sincerity of the players allows us to laugh at De Rougemont’s innocence, as he recounts his wild discoveries. But when De Rougemont counts his losses, Cirone breaks our hearts, especially when he loses his faithful friend, Bruno (Sarah Gazdowicz in a star turn) and when he loses favor with his fellow Londoners.
Levity is provided by the barrelful by Arthur Gomez as the blustery captain, by Charlotte Kinder as De Rougemont’s over-protective mother, by Gazdowicz and Andrew Winson as stuffy old society ladies, by Matthew Zahnzinger as a doddering, pinched, octopus expert…Every member of the taut ensemble has the chance to find laughter in a moment and lose themselves in a touching character role.