The Greatest Liar On Earth

Regarding Pulitzer Prize-winner and South Coast Rep perennial Donald (Dinner With Friends) Margulies' new play, Orange County's premier theater group wants us to consider “how imaginative” we are, but after WMDs, Jayson Blair and, well, the 2000 election, they might be surprised.

Born Henri Louis Grin—a given name already as unlikely as his implausible adventure tales—the narrator of Margulies' nutty turn-of-the-century autobiography calls himself Louis de Rougemont, adventurer, as he recounts his amazing tabloid exploits as a castaway living among Aborigines and riding turtles, all of which made him a big-time cause célèbre until he got busted as a bullshit artist, a con artist—but still a variety of artist. As it happens, the star of his own fabricated escapades appears in a recent novel, The Fabulist, not to be confused with the novel-lie-zation with the same title by disgraced New Republic reporter Stephen Glass, so that at some point in your research, and presumably in the play, you might wonder if Margulies is staging an allegorical tale about our reality-show culture, famously non-reality-based politics, news reporting, 9/11 conspiracies and the rest of what passes for public discourse, which is maybe all just about telling thrilling stories, true or not.

Meantime, Shipwrecked! promises to tell a good story indeed, with, yes, 24's Gregory Itzin (President Logan) in the enviable role of De Rougemont. The play premieres as another project of SCR's laudable Pacific Playwrights Festival.

Shipwrecked!—An Entertainment: The Amazing Adventures of Louis de Rougemont (as Told by Himself)at South Coast Repertory, 655 Town Center Dr., Costa Mesa, (714) 708-5555; . Previews begin Sun.; opening night, Sept. 28. Tues.-Fri. N Sun., 7:45 p.m.; Sat., 2 N 7:45 p.m. Through Oct. 14. $20-$62.

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