For those who want to get in touch with their inner child, Playmakers Repertory Company’s Shipwrecked! An Entertainment is an excellent way to do so. The audience is immediately introduced to charming Louis De Rougemont (Scott Ripley), who promises he has a very sensational and very true story to tell. While the veracity of his story is doubtful and will be called into question later, the enthusiasm with which he tells it instantly draws all viewers in and leaves them leaning forward in childlike wonder.
The audience follows Rougemont from his days as a sickly child to the fateful night when he sets off on an incredible journey that includes a man eating octopus, the riding of sea turtles, and interactions with some very friendly aborigines. Clever staging by director Tom Quaintance and an ever-changing and colorful set by Robin Vest make the entire performance feel like a child’s imaginings. In short, it’s magic.
Ripley is a perfect Rougemont, going from boyishly excited to understandably grim without blinking an eye, and Derrick Ledbetter’s turn as Rougemont’s lovable, scruffy dog and constant companion is arguably the most delightful performance of the evening. Dee Dee Batteast’s dual roles as both Rougemont’s wife and his mother are also memorable, and the rest of the ensemble, which includes the promising Kelsey Didion last seen in Playmakers’ As You Like it, helps to keep up show’s incredibly high energy level.
While the play is wisely performed without an intermission, something that would have destroyed the magic, it does go on for just a bit too long. Aside from this one minor flaw, however, Shipwrecked is sure to delight audience members of all ages.
The show will continue through Sunday, December 19. Tickets can be purchased by visiting http://www.playmakersrep.org or by calling the box office at 919.962.7529.