If you’re looking for a play with both adventure and wit, look no further than CATCO’s current production of Shipwrecked! An Entertainment – The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as Told by Himself). The title may be complicated, but the show itself seems pleasantly simple, which is the largest part of its charm.
Upon entering the theatre, I was already taken by the impressive set. A huge structure much like the deck of a ship make up the stage, with prop pieces scattered around its edges. Even if you didn’t know the title of the play, its likely you would realize rather quickly that it had something to do with sailing, just because of the set.
But the set is a secondary character to the rest of the show, even as it’s utilized to literally move the story onward with “chapter titles” hidden within various props. Shipwrecked! is narrated by its main character – Louis de Rougemont – and acted out by himself and two assistants, as well as a sound effects master. The play tells the story of the many adventures of Louis, from his joining a pearling expedition to being, well, shipwrecked on a desert island and rescued by a tribe of Australian aborigines to his desperate attempt to prove that his adventures actually happened.
The narration is witty and the story itself often full of entertaining nonsense, but it’s not just a humorous tale. There are many touching, even sad, moments throughout the play which only draws the audience more into the story. The main character narrating the entire play, two additional actors who play a multitude of roles, and sound effects presented how they used to be created for radio shows – all of these factors together make the play incredibly unique and charming, and an incredibly entertaining experience.
In the role of Louis de Rougemont, playing both narrator and main character, Ben Gorman is entertaining and charismatic. Within seconds of his appearance on stage, he has the audience in his back pocket and is already pulling them into the story. Playing all of the other characters – even including a lively dog that often steals the spotlight when onstage – are Lisa Thoma and Joe Dallacqua, both of whom show their incredible talents by quickly and easily changing characters right before our eyes. The cast, while small, is phenomenal.
The ending of the show felt a bit long for my personal taste, but it is all very necessary for Louis’s story, as that is when a majority of his character development occurs after his outrageous adventure has come to an end. Don’t let that deter you, though! Shipwrecked! spends most of the time being a fast-paced adventure filled with wit.