From The Pitch Kansas City (Liz Cook):
Spinning Tree’s Shipwrecked! An Entertainment is exactly that.
Fugate played the role of de Rougemont in Spinning Tree’s 2013 production as well, and his reprisal adds a wistful tinge to the character’s exploits. We watch, transfixed, as Fugate transforms from a sickly, sheltered boy to a beady-eyed pearl hunter to a lovestruck castaway on a deserted Australasian island.
Director Vanessa Severo keeps the production design lean, letting actors and audiences project their imaginations onto the stage. The conceit yields some of the most charming, creative work I’ve seen this season.
Assisting Fugate are actors Bob Linebarger and Megan Herrera, who each play multiple supporting roles. Linebarger (another alumnus of the theater’s 2013 production) is especially committed as Bruno, de Rougemont’s overly affectionate dog. And Herrera shines as both a dogged reporter and the grizzled Captain Jensen. (A bit of wrestling with a straitjacket “octopus” is a comic — and choreographic — highlight.)
The minimal set highlights the maximal contributions of Shipwrecked!’s designers (as well as stage manager Emily White, who calls a tight show). Lighting designer Nicole Jaja treats the white stage floor as a holodeck for shimmering colors, feverish textures and crisply delineated playing areas. But her most memorable look is also the most subtle…
Gary Campbell’s props and costumes are impeccably detailed, making Herrera and Linebarger’s multiple character changes clear and convincing. More remarkable: Each of Campbell’s distinct pieces (a structured naval coat for Herrera, a lop-eared aviator hat for Linebarger) add up to a coherent palette, placing us confidently in Margulies’ world.
Shipwrecked! An Entertainment lives up to its title, offering a night of reckless escapism and unbridled wonder.
From The Kansas City Star (Christine Pivovar):
Linebarger is especially crowd-pleasing in his nonverbal role as the faithful dog. Herrera splits her time between several secondary characters, including Louis’ mother and the swashbuckling ship captain. She keeps the show running smoothly with her consistent changes into high-energy characters.
Directed by Vanessa Severo, the show unfolds with a DIY, vaudevillian flair. The actors stand alone on a nearly empty thrust stage while Nicole Jaja’s lighting design sets the scene, whether it be aboard ship during a storm, under the sea or on a sunlit desert island.
The rest of the world is conjured by Gary Campbell’s versatile props and costumes. Household items are used to imaginative effect, such as skeins of rope as jellyfish, and by changing a hat or donning an apron, the supporting actors can instantly jump from one character to the next.
…the ending serves as the play’s meditation on truth, storytelling and identity.
From PerformInk Kansas City (Marie Warner):
SHIPWRECKED! AN ENTERTAINMENT- THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF LOUIS DE ROUGEMONT (AS TOLD BY HIMSELF) is a high-energy romp that takes its audience on a journey from 1860’s London to the Australian outback and everywhere in between. Using just three actors, and minimal staging, Spinning Tree Theatre has created a wonderfully unique production that captures the audience’s attention and imagination from the very first.
This is a fascinating tale in its own right, but the beauty of SHIPWRECKED! is in the execution. The cast is comprised of three actors, with Charles Fugate as Louis de Rougemont, and Megan Herrera and Bob Linebarger as everyone—and everything—else. Herrera and Linebarger constantly change characters and utilize a variety of household objects to embellish de Rougemont’s tale. Pieces of rope become jellyfish, a ladder becomes the mast of a ship, and mops become hilarious hostile natives. The lighting design is wonderful and perfectly complements the story. The moment the sickly child de Rougemont felt the sun on his face for the first time was absolutely lovely.
Charles Fugate carries the bulk of the text and shines as the eccentric, boyish de Rougemont. We get a very strong sense of the changes and growth of the character throughout his journey, as well as being treated to a number of acrobatic displays. The energy and focus of Megan Herrera and Bob Linebarger are incredible and they steal several scenes. Herrera is particularly effective and humorous as a foul-tempered sea captain and exhibits impressive physicality throughout. Linebarger is compelling as a dog named Bruno, and I especially loved him in a poignant moment as a small boy named Albert.
If you are looking for a wildly imaginative production that allows its audience to suspend their disbelief and get caught up in a world where wombats fly up in a cloud, where acrobatics can bridge cultures, where men can ride sea turtles through the deep water, head to Spinning Tree.