Shipwrecked 1.23.20

Dustin Witte performs as Louis De Rougemont in “Shipwrecked!” on Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, at the Carson Theater in Lincoln, Nebraska.

At the tucked away Johnny Carson Theatre, a small audience of a handful of people awaited the beginning of the wondrous tale of “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment — The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as Told by Himself)” on Thursday night.

“Shipwrecked!” is a play that tells the tale of Louis de Rougemont, an ambitious man who narrates to the audience his life from childhood to old age. He tells his journey of working as a deckhand on a pirate ship, being chief of a cannibal tribe and seeing wild creatures like a giant octopus during his adventures.   

“Shipwrecked!” was a surprise in many ways. The simplicity of the set was able to bring so many environments to life. With just a few wooden crates and a trunk, the actors were able to make the space into anything they needed for the scene, whether that be a pirate ship, a deserted island or a factory in London. The modest space made the story easy for the audience to interpret and for the actors to maneuver freely. 

A blank backdrop hung behind the action, and often changed colors to signify different times of the day. For instance, during the daytime, the crew would shine blue on the backdrop. During a sunset scene, they would shine yellow. These lighting changes were able to give the audience a sense of the mood the scene was calling for.  

The show featured an unconventionally small cast —  there were only three actors for the entire show. The cast includes Dustin Witte as de Rougemont, Deirfre Barney as Player 1 and Anthony Delaney as Player 2. Witte gave the audience a fantastic and memorable performance. He’s able to pull off the impossible — playing a liar who is so enthusiastic and so certain about his story that the audience can’t help but believe him. In the end, it was revealed de Rougemont was a liar — all for the sake of wanting love and an escape from his pathetic life.  

Witte’s physical comedy was on point throughout the play. His exaggerated movement and wild acrobatics were reminiscent of actor Jim Carrey. He was also able to show his emotions through his tone of voice, ranging from an excited high pitch to a more mature and thoughtful one during times of sadness. His energy and love of the story were so contagious that the audience couldn’t help but listen to what he had to say next. 

Barney and Delaney had no easy task either. In some instances throughout the show, they had to transform from one person to another in a matter of seconds. Even so, they were both able to give each of their characters amusing charm that made the audience snicker. 

Overall, “Shipwrecked!” told a fanatical story of a man whose longing for adventure causes him to head off on many odd quests and meet many strange people. It’s an overall sad story told in possibly the most hyperbolized way it could be.

It also sends a message about how memories are remembered differently by everyone. It’s easy to assume that people remember events very vividly — but are memories as easy to comprehend as they seem? What might be true for someone might not match someone else’s memories. It’s all about what the mind sees. De Rougemont believed his journey actually happened, but it was actually his mind playing tricks on him.

It’s a shame that more seats were not filled for this event. If there were, many people could gain a wonderful night of laughter and escapism from this beautiful little play. The love and care the actors put into this work is something everyone should witness. Showtimes run until Jan. 26, so for anyone interested in seeing this play, now’s the time.