If you regularly attend Atlanta theater performances, then, you’re bound to have seen at least one production that included Mark Kincaid. Now, he’s at Serenbe Playhouse, giving a performance unlike anything you’ve seen before in the title role of Shipwrecked! An Entertainment: The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As Told by Himself). From the moment he takes the stage as Louis de Rougemont, Kincaid captivates the audience as a nineteenth-century Englishman who leaves home as a young man in search of adventure.
The performance is held outdoors on a stage constructed in the Serenbe Community’s Farmers Market. As with this season’s The Ugly Duckling, Director Brian Clowdus has once again picked the perfect location to help him convey playwright Donald Margulies’ story. Clowdus and Production Designer Kimi Maeda have crafted an inviting, English marketplace to be the play’s backdrop. Upon arrival, guests are greeted in the marketplace by the show’s cast, who encourage them to participate in a sing-a-long of tunes appropriate to the time period.
For a little over 90 minutes, Kincaid is front and center. Save a few pauses for much-needed sips of water, Kincaid never stops. He is acting at his finest as he relishes in de Rougemont’s accounts of riding sea turtles, witnessing a man being attacked by a giant octopus, and finding love on an exotic island. Kincaid, with his gripping story-telling, successfully breaks the fourth wall and pulls the audience deeper into his story.
The rest of the cast (credited as “players”), including Minka Wiltz, Will Schuler, Patrick Donohue, Renita James and Michael Kunter, are all excellent as they perform a variety of roles as the show’s ten chapters unfold. The show is Kincaid’s vehicle, but as Player #1, Minka Wiltz masters each of her roles and ensures that the audience will remember her just as much as they remember Kincaid.
When Wiltz is not onstage as de Rougemont’s mother, a drunken sailor, a beautiful aborigine or a magazine editor, you wonder when she will return and what character she will amaze you with next. Wiltz is an accomplished operatic and concert singer, and even though Shipwrecked! is not an opera or musical, Wiltz still gets to wow the audience with her powerful voice. Singing soulful melodies throughout the show, Wiltz provides an enchanting a cappella score to de Rougemont’s adventures.
Maeda’s shadow projections on the stage’s white-sheet-backdrop and Andrew Carson’s impressive lighting design round out a production that only lacks one thing: a much-needed intermission. If there was a concern that the intermission would be disruptive to de Rougemont’s quickly-paced tale, then, there shouldn’t have been one. A distraction already manifests itself when all the characters announce in unison the change in chapters. While starting out as humorous, it later proves to be distracting as it makes for abrupt transitions during key moments of the show. Nonetheless, Kincaid quickly brings back his audience and continues to provide an evening of entertainment that the show’s title promises.
With Clowdus’ and Maeda’s imaginative staging and expert performances by Kincaid and Wiltz, Shipwrecked! is well worth the trip to Serenbe. Shipwrecked! plays through August 27; for more information visit www.serenbeplayhouse.com.
– A. Wesley