Suzanne Gray, Adrian Rieder

This last weekend, I traveled to Hailey, Idaho to see SHIPWREKED! THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF LOUIS DE ROUGEMONT (AS TOLD BY HIMSELF) by Donald Margulies. I have seen this show once before and I was fond of it - Company of Fools was going to have their work cut out for them.

I love this fantastical story and the form it is delivered. It is almost like a one man show with a supporting cast. It is based on a "true" story about Louis de Rougemont/Henri Louis Grien/Louis Redmond. The story takes place during a time when everyone wants to believe in the fantastical and mythical to escape their realities. There are many story tellers who tell their stories for money. His story takes place in 1898, around the same time that Mark Twain is doing his world tours. The difference being that Louis de Rougemont is claiming his story is real. The way that the story is presented to us, Louis de Rougemnont is a young man telling us his life story.

With such an excitable young man (Adrian Rieder) telling us the entire story, it makes me wonder if what happened was real or not. Would we believe him if he were older telling us the story of his life that had happened or is it better that he is young telling us of the life he will live? Louis was a sickly child tended by his mother (Jana Arnold). Once he is old enough, 16 years old, he takes off on an adventure to London and gets robbed the first night. He meets the captain of a ship (Andrew Alburger) traveling to the Great Barrier Reef to go diving for pearls. The captain has a dog, Bruno (Suzanne Gray) who becomes his companion when a terrible storm comes and he is marooned.

There are other castaways a few years later and they learn each other's languages and simple customs. Louis helps to build a ship to try to find their home island and they find it. He is treated like a god. He marries the woman who was cast away with him and they have two daughters. He eventually gets homesick and leaves the life he created to go home.

I do not envy the actors in this show; however I do appreciate their talent. Adrian Rieder played the main character, Louis, and he interacted with the audience during the whole production; it was scheduled for 90 minutes with no intermission and he was believable. The rest of the cast Jana Arnold, Andrew Alburger and Suzanne Gray played multiple parts from his mother, to the castaways (see photo below) to the dog Bruno, and many others including the sound effects when they were not on stage. They showed us many different characters that were easy to tell one from the other from their posture to their voices (Dialect Coach Anne Price).

(from Left to Right) Adrian Rieder, Andrew Alburger, Jana Arnold & Suzanne Gray

This story crosses land and seas. It crosses continents and islands. There were so many locations if you were not as creative as the tech team, it might have been hard to believe. I believe that we were seeing how it may have been told to us in the late 1800s. We had a piano accompanying the telling of the tale (R. L. Rowsey) and foley helping us with the sound. Personally, I adore when foley is used. It is a nod to the past that we need to remember and honor. Shows like this one and sound designers like Ted Macklin help.

Every part of the production was perfect to put the scene in Victorian times. The costumes were period appropriate and flexible enough to tell the story (Darrin J. Pufall), the lighting help the story as it was told (Hugh Coleman), the illustrations made me think of signs and posters I had seen in London (Keith Joe Dick) and the set framed the story very well (Joe Lavigne and Dennis Rexroad).

This show made for a very enjoyable afternoon. I love the stories that are based in history so that I can do research when I get back home as I did with this show; to find the photo of him riding the turtle to show my husband who attended with me. However, the question remains was Louis de Rougemont telling the truth? I do not think we can ever know for sure, but after seeing this show twice - I would like to think he was.

Photos taken by: Kirsten Shultz

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From This Author Teresa Rodrick

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