A royal rumpus is underway at the Pavilion Theatre, one that encourages theatregoers young and old to unleash their inner Wild Thing.
Western Canada Theatre's production of Where the Wild Things Are breaks the fourth wall by bringing the audience into the play as the titular Wild Things from Maurice Sendak's classic children's tale.
"They start out by imagining what a Wild Thing might look like," explained director Kim Selody. "Once they have the Wild Thing pictured in their head, they become a Wild Thing on stage."
These Wild Things, be they three-year-old boys and girls or their parents, interact fully with Max, the disobedient boy of Sendak's tale.
With Max, played by Raes Calvert, and the assistance of a storyteller/mom figure, played by Linda Carson, the audience-turned-Wild Things journey from Max's bedroom to an imaginary island where the royal rumpus takes place.
Unlike the 2009 film adaptation, this version of Where the Wild Things Are excludes any additional narratives in favour of sticking to Sendak's simple story of youthful individualism and imagination.
"We're very faithful to the book," said Selody.
Adapted by TAG Theatre in Glasgow, Scotland, in co-operation with Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are premiered in 2002 and enjoyed a four-year run that saw the show travel to Japan.
Selody said the production took some time to perfect, a process he equates to a general preparing for battle as the cast has to anticipate every move the audience will make during the interactive portions of the production.
He remembers a terrifying moment early on when all 45 Wild Things decided they wanted to scare Max. They did so by charging and tackling him.
"They took him right out," said Selody.
Now the theatre is set up in three sections, each marked by an "island" where the audience is allowed to move about. Max and the storyteller act on a separate set.
"By making the audience, this is both the adults and the children, become their own Wild Things, you are the Wild Thing of your imagination," he said.
This also took away the risk of audience members buying into someone portraying a Wild Thing on stage, he said. Often, what is scary to a three-year-old is babyish to a seven-year-old. And what scares a seven-year-old will outright terrify a three-year-old.
"You can have an audience of three-year-olds up to teenagers and adults who are being fulfilled in terms of their fantasy," said Selody.
The play ceased production when the Where the Wild Things Are movie went into development and the studio put a moratorium on all things related to Sendak's book.
Now there are Wild Things toys, video games and other tie-ins, said Selody. And Sendak gifted rights to the play to TAG prior to his death earlier this year, which meant the show could go on.
Selody said the play is a hit with adults and children alike — especially children. Parents are pleased by their child's enjoyment of the show in this electronic age where attention spans are short.
Where the Wild Things Are is a co-production of WCT, PH Theatre and Manitoba Theatre for Young People.
The play was shown to schools in Kamloops earlier this week. It runs through the weekend with shows at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Tickets are $10 for children, $15 for adult and are available through Kamloops Live! Box Office.