by Winona Post Editor-in-chief Sarah Squires

Perusing the events ahead this week, I noticed an alarming title affixed to several: “End-of-summer.” End of summer? I was just getting used to sandals and bug spray and bonfires! It should be illegal in the Northern states to declare summer’s end in mid-July. That’s like saying winter is finally over two weeks into January.

Luckily for us, summer is not over yet, and there are still plenty of things to check off lists and explore and enjoy, right here in the Winona area. I have lots of things left to do, but there’s at least one that I’ve already accomplished, and if it’s not on your calendar, now is the time to put it there. The Great River Shakespeare Festival’s (GRSF) “Shipwrecked! An Entertainment — The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (As Told by Himself)” written by Donald Margulies and directed by Rick Barbour, was a fantastic show not to be missed. And unlike some of the Shakespeare productions, this one is perfect for kids. In fact, having attended the preview early without any children in tow, I can tell you I felt a bit bad not having a little one along to enjoy the tale.

The play features three actors — Chris Mixon as Louis de Rougemont, the main character and storyteller; Maya Jackson as Rougemont’s mother, a colorful sea captain, an Aboriginal woman and chief and many other roles; and Michael Fitzpatrick, another GRSF fixture who plays everything from Rougemont’s faithful dog to Queen Victoria.

Part of the fun in this comedic adventure arises from the multiple characters portrayed by Fitzpatrick and Jackson. While they handle creative sound effects, they also flip between roles at the drop of a hat, transforming a simple set into everything from a sandy beach to a London street to a pearl ship in a storm off the coast of Australia.

Louis recounts his life story — his bedridden, sickly childhood, when his mother would read him adventure stories like “Robinson Crusoe” to liven up his dull days, and his decision to leave home at 16 to discover the world. The English lad heads to London and quickly loses everything to street hustlers, then falls in with a wild sea captain about to shove off in search of deep-sea pearls. There’s not much of a secret in the shipwreck, for it’s named in the title, though in hindsight, the adventure really begins on the shores of the Australian Outback.

The tale is ripe with humor for every age, and the set and props are a perfect mix of colorful objects that are continually transformed. Mixon, as usual, brings an energy to the stage like no other (and in this case, a certain degree of gymnastic inspiration). Jackson and Fitzpatrick are equally delightful with their non-stop character shifts and flawless prop and sound manipulation.

Summer is not over, yet, but the GRSF season won’t last forever, so now is the time to make sure that “Shipwrecked” is part of your summer menu in river town.


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