The stage is set at The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre for Donald Margulies’ Shipwrecked! An Entertainment – the amazing adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as told by himself).
Louis de Rougemont took Victorian England by storm with his tales of adventure on the high seas.
Now Louis recalls his story of bravery, survival and celebrity that left his readers spellbound.
Embarking on an epic journey, Louis encounters extraordinary creatures and strange islands, overcomes storms, shipwreck and attacks by a native tribe and a man-eating octopus, only to return to London 30 years later to publish his exploits.
Shipwrecked is a story that captivated and divided 19th century society. Is Louis de Rougemont an adventurer capable of amazing deeds, or is he merely a teller of tall tales?
Louis de Rougemont attempted numerous ill-fated money-making schemes in his life. He also collected adventure stories.
In 1898 he began to write about his adventures in the British periodical The Wide World Magazine.
He described his alleged exploits in search of pearls and gold in New Guinea, and claimed to have spent thirty years living in the Australian outback.
De Rougemont became a sensation in Victorian London. However, some readers expressed disbelief in his tales from the start.
Readers’ arguments in the Daily Chronicle and other newspapers continued for months, fuelling circulation.
Eventually his fame was his downfall. His abandoned family and duped customers recognized his picture in the newspaper and came forward with accounts of the real Louis.
Interest in de Rougemont soon waned, and he disappeared from the public life, dying in poverty in 1921 London.
Truth is stranger than fiction and De Rougemont is stranger than both.
Shipwrecked! An Entertainment has been written by Pulitzer Prize winning dramatist Donald Margulies. It will be directed by Kate Bannister.
It is produced by the same team behind The Mystery of Irma Vep (nominated for five Off West End Awards, including best director and best production), Ghost Train, Around the World in 80 Days and Sleepy Hollow.
Running at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, south east London from December 9 – January 4.