Shipwrecked! Donald Margulies' Shipwrecked! is a giddy and affecting exercise in the seductive powers of artifice, in which the lines between form and function are blurred beyond recognition. Louis de Rougemont (Joneal Joplin), our hero, strides onstage to introduce himself. He then introduces his fellow actors — who happen to be his real-life son and daughter — by their real names, Jared Joplin and Jen Joplin; he briefly admonishes us about the nuisance of cell phones in the theater and then launches into the amazing story of his 30 years spent as a sort of demigod among the Australian Aborigines during the Victorian era. In Brechtian fashion the actors change costumes onstage, work as stagehands and provide the needed sound effects with no effort made at hiding the artificiality of the proceedings — and yet through the strength of their individual performances, we believe their shared story to be true. Joneal gives Louis an unprotected optimism that serves him as well as his sharp sense of humor. When challenged on the veracity of his adventures, he bristles with condescension — he lived this story; that gives him the final word on its truth. But did he really live it? Shipwrecked! ends with a projected photograph of the real life Louis de Rougemont actively proving the truth of one of his outlandish claims. Unbelievably, Joneal Joplin's reenactment of the photo seems more truthful, his face more determined, his joy more transcendent. The actor trumps the person, and the truth lies not in the details but in how well you tell your tale. Presented by Insight Theatre Company through July 31, under the direction of Wayne Loui at the Heagney Theatre, 530 East Lockwood Avenue, Webster Groves. Tickets are $25 to $30. Call 314-556-1293 or visit www.insighttheatrecompany.com. Tickets are $25 to $30. — Paul Friswold
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