By Rosalind Friedman

There's a production now playing at Long Wharf II that is the epitome of theatricality, and excellent
imaginative staging. It is entitled Shipwrecked! An Entertainment. The Amazing Adventures of Luis De
Rougemont, As Told By Himself. It plays only through March 15 and I implore you to get there to see
it. If you have children above the age of 10 bring them, as well.

Donald Margulies is the author of this inventively joyous adventure that will hold you captive and lift
your spirits. Evan Cabinet brilliantly directs an incredibly talented cast of three, costumed with great
creativity by Jessica Wegener. Lit by Tyler Micoleau, Lee Savage's skillfully designed minimal stage
set that uses a wooden platform, a tarpaulin, a coat rack, and some brooms with heads attached to
them, is a marvel. Michael Countryman has never been more endearing as he welcomes the audience
to this temple of imagination. He is Luis de Rougemont (red mountain), who tells us that every word of
his story is the truth. We follow his far-fetched tale from his boyhood in England to his life on the high
seas, his time marooned on an island, his love affair, and his return to England many years later.

As a boy, he is tied ever so tightly to his mother, played beautifully by Angela Lin (young and old), who
is also the crazy tough sea captain, and Luis' wife, and many other characters. His father is off on
business trips. But because Luis' health is fragile, his mother will not let him even go outside his
house. Instead she reads him classic adventure books like Swiss Family Robinson. At sixteen, he
breaks out of his home, taking the complete works of William Shakespeare, which his mother says
contains all the things that he will ever have to know about life, and his mother's inheritance, which is
promptly stolen from him the first night on the road.

Boarding a ship, a "pearler," he is shipwrecked in the Coral Sea and swims to safety with Bruno, the
captain's dog, played to perfection by Jeff Biehl. Biehl also takes on many other characters, but is
unforgettable as this loyal canine, body posed, his panting tongue hanging out of his mouth. Luis
survives for as number of years. Then a lovely aborigine girl and her father are swept up on his island.
He saves them, travels with them to New Guinea, marries her, and together they raise their two
daughters. The natives of that island consider him a God of the Ocean. Finally, he leaves his family
and returns to London. There, the story he writes for World Wide Magazine is first saluted by all; he is
even knighted by Queen Victoria. Suddenly, he is plunged from fame to despair. Luis is accused of
being a liar. One would sink, riding on a sea turtle, they say; wombats don't fly; he deserted his wife
and children; he is a phony. In light of very recent books which have been published falsely, this theme
seems very prescient.

However, the finale is filled with delight, and we are once again thrown back into the question: what is
truth; what is delirium; what is imagination?
Shipwrecked! The best entertainment of the season. Playing now through March 15 at LW Stage II.

This review originally aired on WMNR Fine Arts radio

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