Directed by Bryan Fonseca
Like an old time radio drama performed before an audience, Shipwrecked!
is more dazzling in execution than in plot, but perhaps that is Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Donald Margulies' (Dinner with Friends
) point. It isn't what you do or say, but how you sell it. As the grandiose Louis de Rougemont (Charles Goad) proposes to amaze us with his maritime adventure, the curtains give way to show all the backstage machinations that make the next 90 minutes enjoyable for all age groups. Two flexible players (Eddie Curry and Sara Riemen) toss props and hats back and forth for the multiple bit parts they will play. Within view, the crew brews a storm by wobbling sheet metal thunderously, and then crumples a Doritos' bag for the perfect campfire crackle. With shadow puppets projected on a ship mast, we "see" what we can't really confirm, that a terrible sea monster eats a sailor and that Rougemont is a wonderful acrobat. Set designer Kyle Ragsdale, technical director Christopher Hansen, costumer Stephen Hollenbeck, and lighting designer Michael McNamara share the credit with director Bryan Fonseca for the production's inventiveness. The play would be much more than it is if the writing was as joyously inventive as the stagecraft. The running narration is only sometimes funny and, although Margulies tries to spin a grown-up lesson near the end, most of the plot plays best to children. Through Nov 8. 635-7529; www.phoenixtheatre.org.