There is something about the lure of the unknown that will turn men into adventurers.
|James Riordan in “Donogoo” by Jules Romains. Directed
by Gus Kaikkonen
at The Mint. Photo: Richard Termine
“Donogoo,” at the Mint Theater through July 27th, is a tale of greed, mistaken geography, and the triumph of the imagination. Jules Romains’ delightful play originally opened in 1930 to great acclaim, saving the floundering Théâtre Pigalle from dissolution.
Land speculation, gold fever, all roads lead to Donogoo Tonka, an error that turns into a scam. Benin (the superb Mitch Greenberg) plucks a suicidal Lamendin (James Riordan, who is fantastic) back to life. At the direction of the quack psychologist Miguel Rufesque (George Morfogen) to whom Benin sends him, Lamendin seeks out a stranger, Le Trouhadec (the ever versatile Morfogen again), a disgraced geographer, to assist.
Le Trouhadec’s discovery, the lost city of Donogoo Tonka may not exist. Lamendin sees an opportunity.With the help of a questionably honest banker, Margajat (Ross Bickell in top form), Lamendin forms a stock company to develop the mineral-rich city and its environs. Shareholders (Megan Robinson, playing all the women in the play, and Kraig Swartz, among them) begin to question the existence of Donogoo, but prospectors have already begun to turn the fiction into a reality.Le Trouhadec is vindicated.
The translation by Gus Kaikkonen, who also directs with a deft delicacy, is impeccable and elegant. The applause the sets, by Roger Hanna, and special effects, by Hanna with Price Johnston, elicit are well-merited. The exceptional ensemble are all in perfect step, doing justice to the material’s subtle and satiric humor. Among these standouts, Scott Thomas as Joseph, the sensible pioneer, catches the eye.
“Donogoo” is seriously funny, with a sharp and sincere wit. And this production is terrific.
The Mint Theater doesn’t just “find lost plays,” it uncovers their relevance.
For tickets and to learn more about “Donogoo,” visit The Mint’s website.