Review: Shipwreck! An Entertainment (Redtwist Theatre)

| December 22, 2013
Michael C. Countryman, Daniela Colucci and Matt Browning star in Redtwist Theatre's "Shipwreck! An Entertainment" by Donald Margulies, directed by Ian Frank. (photo credit: Jan Ellen Graves)        
      
   
Shipwreck! An Entertaiment

Written by Donald Margulies  
Directed by Ian Frank
at Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr (map)
thru Jan 13  |  tickets: $15-$20   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
                      Read review
     


  
  

Madman or adventurer?

     

Michael C. Countryman, Daniela Colucci, Matt Browning and Ian Frank star in Redtwist Theatre's "Shipwreck! An Entertainment" by Donald Margulies, directed by Ian Frank. (photo credit: Jan Ellen Graves)

    
Redtwist Theatre presents
    
Shipwrecked! An Entertainment

   The Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as told by himself)

Review by Kat D. Hey

Louis de Rougemont (Matt Browning) gives an introduction to his story and defines it as “an entertainment”. That simple definition has much deeper meaning as his story develops into a treatise on the roots of reality media and sensationalism. Shipwrecked! takes place in England during the nascent years of journalism, as we know it today. Young Louis recalls his years as a sickly child being read tales of adventure by his loving if overprotective mother (Daniela Colucci). He gives a description of his exotic roots as the son of a Swiss mother and a mostly absent father who is off making a living. Browning is an appealing and engaging storyteller with a carnival huckster edge. Colucci plays several roles in the saga including a salty old ship’s captain and New Guinean cannibal maiden.

Michael C. Countryman and Matt Browning star in Redtwist Theatre's "Shipwreck! An Entertainment" by Donald Margulies, directed by Ian Frank. (photo credit: Jan Ellen Graves)Michael C. Countryman is wondrous in several roles, most notably as the faithful dog that accompanies Louis through years. It is a very emotional moment when Countryman hands his dog-ears (a pair of mangy sweat socks) to Louis, having ‘gone to sleep and never awakening’. Ian Frank, as the piano player who colors the action with lovely dancehall style music, rounds out the cast.

The action is evenly distributed among the players, even as Browning takes the spotlight as the narrator of Louis telling his tale. The action is done at a breakneck speed, with inventive uses for such items as swimming noodles, a toilet brush, and plastic tubing. Colucci and Countryman lithely bound between verbal and visual storytelling with different accents and subtle changes of posture. Browning and Frank have a funny exchange during a sea turtle ride that is subtle yet effective.

The story takes place over a span of thirty years, as Louis sets out to live the adventures of the characters that his mother read to him after giving him a freshly baked warm scone. Louis’ character blends Robinson Crusoe, and the characters of “Treasure Island”. He and his trusty dog survive a monstrous octopus, a mega-whirlpool, days at sea, and hungry cannibals (are there any other kind?). He discovers rare pearls and indomitable courage on his adventures. He also sires a family with the comely cannibal maiden and is thought of as a god among the New Guinean inhabitants.

Matt Browning, Ian Frank and Daniela Colucci star in Redtwist Theatre's "Shipwreck! An Entertainment" by Donald Margulies, directed by Ian Frank. (photo credit: Jan Ellen Graves)

Shipwrecked! takes the audience through decades of poverty and struggle to brief wealth and fame. The story can be interpreted as the quixotic ravings of a deluded man gleaning his tale from the tables of the wealthy, or as possibly true. Playwright Donald Margulies wisely never really reveals what is true. The play is a grand saga as well as a commentary on fame. Even though the story takes place in Victorian England, it brought to my mind the scourge of reality television. Society loves to have its heroes and demands perfection in the characters. When the next hero floats to the surface on wreckage with a variation on the story, the old hero is denounced and made into a villain. In the final analysis, heroes and adventures are all ‘entertainments’ to amuse people in the throes of everyday life. The public wants it to be true – and when given what is asked, the nitpicking begins.

This is a fine production with nuance and excellent pacing. There are acrobatics as well as slapstick in this entertainment. There is also a deep moral to the story that you’ll still be pondering long after the lights come up.

  
Rating: ★★★
  
   

Shipwrecked! An Entertainment continues through January 13th at Redtwist Theatre, 1044 W. Bryn Mawr (map), with performances Saturdays at 3pm, Sundays and Mondays at 7:30pm.  Tickets are $15-$20, and are available by phone (773-728-7529) or online through BuzzOnStage.com (check for half-price tickets at Goldstar.com). More information at Redtwist.org(Running time: 85 minutes, no intermission)

Michael C. Countryman, Daniela Colucci and Matt Browning star in Redtwist Theatre's "Shipwreck! An Entertainment" by Donald Margulies, directed by Ian Frank. (photo credit: Jan Ellen Graves)

Photos by Jan Ellen Graves


     

artists

cast

Matt Browning (Louis), Daniela Colucci (Player #1), Michael C. Countryman (Player #2), Ian Frank (Player #3)

behind the scenes

Ian Frank (director, original music, sound design, pianist), Lauren Miller (stage manager), Olivia Leah Baker (costume design), Eric Vigo (lighting design), Jan Ellen Graves (graphic design, co-producer), Charles Bonilla (box office manager), E. Malcolm Martinez (box office associate), Johnny Garcia (box office associate, associate producer), Michael Colucci (co-producer)

Michael C. Countryman, Daniela Colucci and Matt Browning star in Redtwist Theatre's "Shipwreck! An Entertainment" by Donald Margulies, directed by Ian Frank. (photo credit: Jan Ellen Graves)

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Category: 2013 Reviews, K.D. Hopkins, Redtwist Theatre

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