Review: An Adventure with Shipwrecked! An Entertainment

Last night’s opening production of Shipwrecked! An Entertainment at the Phoenix Theater set the bars high for Indianapolis performing arts this year. You can catch the latest from Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, Donald Marguiles, through November 8 in the Indianapolis cultural district, Mass Ave. Tickets range from $15.00 to $20.00 and show times are Thursday through Sunday.

Shipwrecked! An Entertainment transports us back to a time in our lives when the adventures of Robinson Crusoe seemed wild yet somehow tangible. To the central character, Louis de Rougemont played by Charles Goad, these tales are more than just bedtime stories, they become his life. Goad, who you may recognize from the Indiana Repertory Theater or Heartland Actors Repertory Theater, is simply captivating as de Rougemont, a man bent on finding adventure in his life. In giving the curtain speech as the large than life de Rougemont, Goad immediately draws you in to his tale. He sets the precedent that while de Rougemont is in control of the entertainment, anything is possible.

The cast is rounded out by Eddie Curry and Sara Riemen, who take on all the necessary roles in de Rougemont’s life with a boisterous energy that feeds into Goad’s take on Louis. With a simple addition of a hat or a prop, these two prove themselves as worthy character actors with skill and talent to spare. Curry does man’s best imitation of man’s best friend, filling the role of Louis’ trusty dog Bruno, then jumps seamlessly to an Aboriginal tribesman and even Queen Victoria. Riemen brings a touch of delightful romance as she dons the part of Louis’ Aboriginal wife, but just as skillfully portrays a news boy or scientist. Together all three actors work like a well oiled machine.

But perhaps one of the most uniquely clever aspects of the latest offering at the Phoenix Theater is the use of a live sound effects in a sparse set. In a brilliant move on the part of designer Kyle Ragsdale, the playing area is a simple ovular platform of planked wood on a stage with no masking. Every trick for theater magic lays exposed, waiting to be used, whether they are chip wrappers and bubble wrap to create the sound of fire or tribal masks and dried grass skirts for the savage adventure. Together a sound crew of three look almost like the producers of an old timey radio show as they employ old fashion tricks to fill out the gaps of Louis imagination.

Director Brian Fonseca transports his audience, making them instantly young, as he takes them on a fantastical journey with the pseudo hero Louis de Rougemont. Margulies script is filled with simple one liners, that place a mirror in front of the audience. Fonseca takes that mirror and begs the question, “What is truth?” With plenty of visual feasts from scene to scene, hilarious bits and enchanting performances from three extremely talented actors, Shipwrecked! An Entertainment certainly lives up to its name.

For a lighthearted evening with a beautiful message about the power of imagination, Shipwrecked! An Entertainment is the play for you. Running through November 8th at the Phoenix Theater in the Mass Ave cultural district, this play is great for family, friends, kids, and dates. This extraordinarily vivid production is one the entire family can enjoy, more meaty than children’s theater, but youthful enough to touch the kid in us all!

Consider taking an adventure of your own in the Circle City. With so many great places to eat, drink and be merry in Indianapolis downtown, the possibilities for fun are endless in Indy. Check out some of the great Indianapolis restaurants in the area such as Agio’s Italian Restaurant or Scholars Inn for a bit of romance. If you are packing the kids in the car for a family outing to the theater, consider Yats as a more affordable and fun place to eat.

For more information about this Indianapolis art event including show times and to purchase tickets for Shipwrecked! An Entertainment visit the Phoenix Theater’s website.  Take part in Louis de Rougemont’s fifteen minutes of fame, and find out just how powerful imagination is.

Shipwrecked! An Entertainment
October 2009

The Phoenix Theatre
749 North Park Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46202