Project X lands a bullseye with Robin Hood

Cast and crew of “The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood” poses after its opening show on July 16. (Cameron Doherty/The Omega)

Cast and crew of “The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood” poses after its opening show on July 16. (Cameron Doherty/The Omega)

Project X Theatre Productions is back in Kamloops for a 10th con­secutive year and their latest of­fering. The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood had the near-capacity audience at Prince Charles Park enraptured. The audience was treat­ed to a winning combination of edge-of-your-seat excitement and over-the-top hilarity.

Written by Jeff Pitcher and di­rected by Heather Cant, the play offers another version of the fa­mous Robin Hood story that we all know and love. The script hits all of the notes expected from a tale about Nottingham’s most fa­mous bandit: Robin steals from the rich, an archery competition for a golden arrow, and a certain Maid Marian ends up falling in love with our titular hero. However, it is the different way this play goes about maneuvering its characters into the expected places that makes it ap­pealing.

The 12-person cast of Mack Gor­don as Robin Hood, Kelsey Gilker as Maid Marian, Stephen Sawka as the Sheriff of Nottingham, Brooke Ballam as Alan-a-Dale, Andrew Cooper as Guy of Gisborne, Dušan Magdolen as Friar Tuck, Wyatt Purcha as Little John, Meagan Petrie as Will Scarlett, Chanelle Renee as Justine the Seer, Chris­topher Seguin as the Knight, Joel Feenstra as Forester 1/ Merryman 1 and Lukas Vanderlip as Forester 2/ Merryman 2 all combined to create something that is very entertain­ing. The joy with which each actor approached their respective roles radiated from them and quickly in­fected the entire audience.

“The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood” bad guys Andrew Cooper as Guy of Gisborne and Stephen Sawka as the Sheriff of Nottingham. (Cameron Doherty/The Omega)

“The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood” bad guys Andrew Cooper as Guy of Gisborne and Stephen Sawka as the Sheriff of Nottingham. (Cameron Doherty/The Omega)

Unlike other versions of the sto­ry, the Robin Hood brought to life by Mack Gordon is a full and real­istic character. Beginning the story as a brash and arrogant youth who seems equally concerned with his own notoriety and his urge to help the downtrodden folk of Sherwood Forest, the audience is able to see him grow into the legend that we all know so well.

Allowing a character to undergo a full arc was not something limited to Robin Hood however, as Kelsey Gilker explained.

“I play Maid Marian, and she starts off very righteous in her be­liefs about law and order, and then this madcap character called Robin Hood comes in and starts to cause a bunch of hysteria amongst her and kind of dishevels her beliefs a little bit. And at the end… she changes her mind a little bit, let’s say.”

All of the character growth did not come at the expense of humour however, as the three main sources of laughter throughout the show were static and consistently funny.

TRU alum Andrew Cooper pro­vided a standout performance and almost every line he delivered in an outstandingly funny French accent was greeted with a roar of laugh­ter from the audience. Likewise, Stephen Sawka had the crowd in stiches every time he was unable to stomach saying the name Robin Hood, and as Dušan Magdolen ex­plained, his version of Friar Tuck is a simple man.

“I just want to party, just roast some deer and give me some ale and all is well in the world,” he said about his character.

This love of food is readily appar­ent throughout the show, and Mag­dolen returning to scenes just to tuck food into his robes gets more and more funny each time.

Taking place in the corner of Prince Charles Park, the play in­corporated its outdoor setting into the action to great effect. The trees around the set acted as a natural extension of the Sherwood Forest that the actors performed in, and the set itself was versatile, changing from a dingy dungeon to a forest clearing with only a few footsteps to the right from the actors neces­sary for the transformation.

Of course, this being a play about perhaps one of the most famous archers of all time, arrows were constantly zipping through the air and sprouting up in some very un­expected places.

That the effects were so believ­able is largely due to the work of Travis Hatt and Gal Minnes, who are, respectively, the technical di­rector and production manager of the show.

“What we are in charge of is tak­ing all of the concepts, all of the designs and ideas, making sure they are feasible and then realizing the designs. Our jobs are multi-facet­ed and they change day-by-day,” Minnes said.

Amongst all the action and hu­mour there is also a little bit of ro­mance taking place, too.

“My favourite part of the show, especially right now as we are just getting into it, is finding the mo­ments between Marian and Robin, because the romance is there but it’s not there a lot,” Gilker said.

A major theme throughout the play was the importance of faith, and much to the annoyance of Fri­ar Tuck, not necessarily a faith in a higher power, but rather a faith in your fellow man. After watching The Merry Adventures of Rob­in Hood, I certainly have faith in Project X to put on an entertaining show.

X Fest 2015 continues until Au­gust 1, with performances of the Shakespeare Show and the Mer­ry Adventures of Robin Hood on alternating days at 7:30 p.m. in Prince Charles Park. Visit www. projectxtheatre.ca for ticket and schedule information.