On Stage: 'Shipwrecked' takes audience on South Seas adventure at South Carolina Repertory Company

features@islandpacket.comJanuary 22, 2014 

Director: Tom Evans

Lead actors: Gerry Pauwels, Ian McCabe and Nora Leahy

The plot: In Victorian England a young Louis de Rougemont sets off on a South Seas sailing adventure. He experiences a wild ride involving sea monsters, pearl diving, deep and abiding friendship with a dog, shipwreck, marooning on a small island, rescue by Aborigines, love, marriage and -- most amazingly -- the riding of wild ocean sea turtles. Upon his eventual return to his native land where he publishes his adventures, Louis is alternately celebrated as a hero and damned as a fabricator of the worst sort. Only the audience will know which of these scenarios is true.

The story behind the show: "Ben Brantley, drama critic of the New York Times described 'Shipwrecked' as 'a kid-friendly comedy telling the breathless story of a Victorian wanderer whose colorful past as a seafarer springs to life like a theatrical pop-up book,' " Evans said. "This seductive description led me to examine the script carefully. My conclusion was that Mr. Brantley was entirely right. It would, however, ask that a play consisting of many, many varied characters (even a dog) be brought to the stage via the protean skills of only three actors. When gotten right, this is a challenge that offers extensive rewards to the production team, as well as to the spectator. Movies solve such problems via CGI. The theater just uses its own inimitable magic."

Director's take: "Greeting spectators leaving an earlier mounting of this production in Indiana, I was particularly pleased when I asked two different young boys if they had enjoyed the play," Evans said. "They both said it was good and passed on. Their parents lingered to assure me the kids had found the play to be 'awesome.' It is a great pleasure to see both parents and their kids entranced by the exact same material, particularly when the play does not condescend."

Behind the scenes: "Some used whiskey barrels are a major part of the scenery," Evans said. "We rehearsed several days before we discovered that flies were living inside and coming out to pester us. We solved the problem by plugging the bung holes in the side of the barrels."

Run dates: 8 p.m. (with 2 p.m. Sunday matinees) through Feb. 9

Ticket Prices: $30 for seniors; $32 for adults; and $16 for active military

Contact for tickets: 843-342-2057, www.hiltonheadtheatre.com

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