I’m not what you’d call a theater goer. No, my usual forms of entertainment can be found on some sort of screen, whether, film, tv, or video game. But when I got the chance to attend Shakespeare Santa Cruz’s production of Shipwrecked!, I said, “Why not?” I’ll gladly admit that I did absolutely zero research before watching the production. I thought I was in for a swashbuckling adventure with Johnny Depp-like pirates.
While there wasn’t a pirate in sight, I am pleased to report that I had a great time and can highly recommend it to anyone, theater and non-theater goer alike.
I was grabbed right from the beginning, as the usual notices that go before the play (silence cell phones, etc) were worked into an introduction by Mr. Rougemont, which then serves as an introduction to himself. You see, this story is largely him retelling (reenacting?) his story of grand adventure to us, the audience. We follow him as a boy dreaming of going on a journey, which leads to him gaining passage on a pearl expedition. After a series of unfortunate events, he ends up crashed on an island, not unlike Tom Hanks in Castaway. The end. Ok just kidding, of course he gets off the island only to land in ever more adventures.
The play takes a turn about 3/4ths through that surprised me. Its tone shifts, and its themes turn to those that we see in our celebrity-obsessed culture of building up our heroes only to tear them down. Shipwrecked’s playwright, Donald Marguilies, states that an inspiration of Shipwrecked was none other than author James Frey, whose book Million Little Pieces was thought to have been autobiographical but later turned out to be largely a piece of fiction, culminating in a thrashing by Oprah herself.
I’m not going to ruin anything, but let me just say that Shipwrecked ends in one of the strangest scenes I think I have witnessed involving a sea turtle and a setup similar to Slim Pickens at the end of “Dr. Strangelove”. Really I can’t say much more than that.
With only three main performers throughout the whole play, the actors had to be on their game. And oh did they bring it. The performances are a delight. Karen Aldridge shifted effortlessly as she portrays everything from Louis’s mother to a grizzled captain of a ship. Mike Ryan nearly steals the show as Louis’s dog Bruno, and again as Queen Victoria. But of course the star of the show is Mr. Rougemont, played with much gusto by Dierk Torsek. He is in full showman mode, brimming with energy.
This play has so much going for it. I loved how the presentation of Shipwrecked hid nothing from the audience.
All of the music is created, without synthesizers, by two of the actors.
Full of sharp, witty dialogue and inventive staging, this 90 minute romp had me laughing throughout.
Go see Shipwrecked!
Tickets are available at Santa Cruz Tickets .
Cruzio Reporter: Mike Brogan