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A CurtainUp Los Angeles Review
The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as told by himself)
De Rougemont speaks of adding color to a drab life which happens here in Margulies' evocative words interpreted by De Lorenzo's dramatic sensitivity. Initially commissioned by South Coast Repertory Theatre, it was performed there last fall.
The play opens with a ghost light, the theater term for a single light standing solitary in mid-stage. Next to it the story-teller gives a dramatic flourish before beginning his tale. The light and the flourish are clues and themes for the next 90 minutes in which Gregory Itzin plays de Rougemont, the story-teller. Aided by marvelous visual projections on stage rear, he almost single-handedly holds the audience spellbound with his memoir.
De Rougemont was a sickly boy whose loving mother provided him with books about travel and Shakespeare's plays. Lusting to see the world, he went to sea where he was shipwrecked on a tiny island with only a loving dog for company. Two years later a canoe of half-dead aborigines washed ashore, providing him with Yama (Melody Buriu) and her father (Michael Daniel Cassady). Eventually he returns the homesick Yama to her native island where they marry and raise two daughters, Blanche and Gladys. Then it's De Rougemont's turn to be homesick and he manages to get back to England. His wonderful story is recognized as such by a newspaper publishser ("A penny for my story!") and De Rougemont becomes rich, meets Queen Victoria and is the darling of everyone from little boys to chattering ladies. He becomes so famous, in fact, that he attracts the attention of scientists and adventurers who gleefully poke holes in his story.
The play explores the difference between what reality and magical realism offer or inspire. For de Rougemont, joyously riding a turtle is the imagery he wants to leave with us. "Oh, earthbound stargazers!quot; he deplores, laughing down at us from the turtle's back. For anybody who ever lived to dream, this is your man.
The canny Itzin is ably supported by Melody Butiu whose enchanting voice magically assists her roles as De Rougemont's mother and wife, and who also plays swaggering masculine characters with tough humor, and the equally versatile Michael Daniel Cassady, who is the realest dog you'll ever see, as well as assorted characters from aborigines to sneering scientists.
Keith Mitchell's imaginative props form the set design, brightened by Candice Cain's colorful costumes. A major production element is the shadow scenic design and choreography by Christine Marie which are not only beautiful in their own right but evoke the shadow performances that imitate truth.