Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Shipwrecked in Federal Way

Donald Margulies’ “Shipwrecked” at Centerstage Theatre

L to R: Terry Edward Moore, Elinor Gunn, Chris Shea

L to R: Elinor Gunn, Chris Shea, Terry Edward Moore

Terry Moore. Photos by
Michele Smith Lewis
I’ve never seen anything quite like Shipwrecked! by Donald Margulies at Centerstage in Federal Way. The full title is Shipwrecked! An Entertainment. The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as told by himself.) I like that it’s called “an entertainment” rather than a play. That tells us something important about the writer’s intent and the manner in which this entertainment is presented.

It is like something wild put on by a traveling troupe of actors in the days of Shakespeare performed from a wagon whose sides drop down to become a stage complete with thunder machines and other fantastical contraptions with which actors create sound effects as they went along.

Before even mentioning the story and the actors, I need to make it clear that Benjamin Baird’s set, lighting by Amy Silveria and clever costumes by Rachel Wilkie set this performance up as something more like a Vaudeville entertainment than a traditional comedy or drama. And believe you me, it is a comedy.

It is billed as a true story told in first person by Louis de Rougemont (Terry Edward Moore). But whether or not it is a true story, indeed, becomes a major point of contention.

Louis (French name but raised by his mother in London) steps onto a makeshift stage in front of a pair of bed-sheet curtains and introduces himself to the audience and proceeds to tell the tale of his adventures while a pair of thespians (Elinor Gunn and Chris Shea) act out the parts of everyone else in his life from his mother to his pet dog.

Louis was a sickly child nursed by a loving mother whom he loved. But his love for his mother didn’t stop him from leaving home with no plans for ever returning as soon as he was old enough to go out into the world seeking adventure. He signs on with a ship hunting pearls, is shipwrecked in the Coral Sea and washes up on shore in Australia where he saves a lost Aboriginal woman and her children, marries her, spends 30 years in Australia where, among other things, he rides giant sea turtles like horses, and finally goes back home to London where he writes the story of his life’s adventure which becomes a worldwide sensation resulting in his telling his tale on stage throughout the land—which is what the “entertainment” we’re watching purportedly is.

Ably directed by Roger Curtis, the three-person cast is outstanding. Moore is totally believable as the fanciful Louis de Rougemont. His voice ranges from majestic (great projection and enunciation) to tender. No matter how fantabulous the adventures he relates, he makes it seem as if he absolutely believes it. Gunn and Shae are a whirlwind of frantic action as they circle through many parts from Louis’s mother and the swashbuckling sea captain (Gunn) to Louis’s pet dog and a myriad of men and women (Shae) with quick costume changes, and meanwhile operating all of the Foley equipment which amazingly captures the sounds of swishing waves at sea, thunder, and the myriad city sounds of the streets of London.

I cannot praise this entire production enough. I drove up from Olympia, and it was definitely worth the trip. I loved every minute of it. It runs 90 minutes with no intermission, and the time flies by.

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday through April 4
WHERE: Centerstage at Knutzen Family Theatre, 3200 SW Dash Point Road, Federal Way
TICKETS: $30, seniors and military $25, youth 25 and younger $10
INFORMATION: 253-661-1444, www.centerstagetheatre.com

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