X Fest has begun!

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There are many things that bind the two X Fest plays together.

There’s the Shakespearean overtone: One sees all of the Bard’s plays performed — albeit in shortened form — in 97 minutes while the other sees the renowned playwright introducing the mayhem that is to follow.

There’s the sheer physicality of both The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (abridged) and Munsch Ado About Nothing.

There’s the obvious linkage the the titles themselves, one being a play on the title of the other.

And then there are the little things, like the hard-to-miss running shoes the three-actor casts of each play wears — and the domination on the stage at Prince Charles Park of a large yellow Dumpster.

Some things are best kept secret until the curtain — metaphorically speaking — rises on the outdoor event today (June 20) for two nights of previews before opening night.

But there are some things that can be written about.

For example, while this is a remounting of the 2008 abridged Shakespearean play, it’s the first time for the Winnipeg-born production based on the books of Robert Munsch.

The premises of the two are similar: In Shkspr, three students have been asked to leave the National Theatre School and are on the street.

In Munsch, a circus troupe has found most of its members gone, with three remaining, an audience waiting and the need to come up with something to entertain them.

It’s the first time the theatre group has done a play that is directly aimed at families and, in particular, little ones.

That’s why it starts at 6 p.m. nightly during the 17-day festival.

At just about an hour in length, it gives parents time to “get the little ones tucked into bed,” said Munsch director Amy Baskin.

While it might go a bit longer some nights, it maxes out at 70 minutes, she said, because enough time is needed to get ready for Shkspr.

It’s a farce, said its director, Robin Nichol, and, yes, it will take the audience through all the plays by Shakespeare in 97 minutes.

Some are grouped in themes, however.

The historical plays are done as a football game. Titus and Andronicus is a cooking show.

And, with three men making up the cast, somebody gets to follow in the classic Shakespearean requirement of portraying women.

That falls mainly to Stefano Giulianetti, who, as he says, plays six women and dies eight times during the play.

The script “doesn’t read funny,” Nichol said, but it becomes a laughest in the hands — and skills — of the trio.

That applies to the three performing Munsch, too. Physical comedy is relied on heavily, with Evelyn Chew spending much of her time being left and tossed around by co-actors Melissa Thomas and Sheanna James.

The audience gets in on the plot in both, too — but there’s no need to worry you’ll be dragged up on stage.

It’s more of an engagement, said James, with moments when they might talk directly to someone in the audience or make a joke with one of the children.

Both shows are performed nightly except mondays and Tuesdays when they will alternate. There are no performances on Sundays.

There is a matinee at 3 p.m. on July 30.

Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and students and $10 for those 12 and younger.

Tickets are available at the Kamloops Live Box Office, 1025 Lorne St., 250-374-5483, kamloopslive.com.




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