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KTW reviews X Fest

Project X Theatre’s annual summer festival is back at Prince Charles Park with two new shows this year.
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Project X Theatre’s annual summer festival is back at Prince Charles Park with two new shows this year.

The Shakespeare Show (Or How an Illiterate Son of a Glover Became the Greatest Playwright in the World) and The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood began on alternate nights earlier this month.

It continues with nightly shows Monday to Saturday, which start at 7:30 p.m., until Aug. 1, with a matinee, which begins at 3 p.m., on the final day.

On Monday nights, tickets are buy one get one free and select shows are pay what you can admission.

Tickets are $25 for adults, $20 for students and seniors and $12 for kids 12 and younger, and can be bought from Kamloops Live box office, 1025 Lorne St., 250-374-5483 or kamloopslive.ca.

Meantime, check out what KTW thought of the shows.

With a flip of a hat, the characters multiply like the stories of The Bard himself, turning a special corner of Prince Charles Park into a stage that stretches back more than 400 years.

The Shakespeare Show (Or How an Illiterate Son of a Glover Became the Greatest Playwright in the World) is one of two plays that form XFest 2015, the annual summer theatre showcase produced by Project X Theatre.

It is performed on alternate nights until Aug. 1, sharing the park stage with The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood.

The premise of The Shakespeare Show is that William Shakespeare did not write all those masterpieces.

He did not write the comedies. He did not write the tragedies. He did not write the histories.

He could not have authored them for, in the mind of The Shakespeare Show author Ryan Gladstone, The Bard was a horse-holder who could neither read nor write.

Who, then, wrote Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest and Merchant of Venice and Henry IV and all the rest?

If you wander down to Prince Charles Park this month, you will discover it was The Earl of Oxford — and the interplay between Oxford and Shakespeare is what makes the play a humorous gem.

More remarkable is the fact The Earl of Oxford and William Shakespeare — and 28 other characters — are portrayed by just two actors: Kelsey Gilker and Andrew Cooper.

Iambic pentameter patter dominates as the two actors verbally joust in the various roles, with a particular “thumb war” during Romeo and Juliet being a comedic highlight.

Gilker and Cooper have a massive responsibility in portraying 30 combined characters for an audience that sits close enough to notice the slightest change of detail in the face of three performers.

The duo does the job masterfully.

The bonus to the play is that even those who cannot remember a single line from a single Shakespeare play can — and will — enjoy the show.

Robin Hood is now Robin ‘Ooood in my vocabulary, thanks to Andrew Cooper.

Cooper, who plays Guy of Gisborne in X Fest’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, brought laughter to Sherwood Forest with a French accent that made almost any phrase funny, just for the way he said it.

Cooper’s scenes with Stephen Sawka, who played the Sherriff of Notingham, were a highlight on opening night in Prince Charles Park, where the stands were packed in anticipation of the story written by Jeff Pitcher.

The play marks Sawka’s first time portraying a villain and castmate Wyatt Purcha’s first time on a professional stage, but you wouldn’t have known by Sawka’s devilish expressions and Purcha’s humble comfort in the role of Little John.

As promised, Prince Charles Park was transformed into Sherwood Forest with the use of actual trees framing the set.

It was fun watching the classic tale play out, with the 12 cast members bouncing around and through the stage, complete with swordfighting.

A shooting competition near the end of the show, in which arrows appeared to strike a target in all the right spots, begged the question, “How’d they do that?”

And, after a couple of more shots, it became clear a clever illusion was crafted, with arrows popping out from the other side and sound effects making it seem like characters were shooting, despite having no arrows loaded in their bows.

This is a good show for the kids or anyone who enjoys the story of Robin ‘Ooood.