Here, the kids in the audience become Max's wild things, and there's plenty of opportunity for audience participation.
—Joff Schmidt, reviewer
The rumpus in Manitoba Theatre for Young People's latest production of Where the Wild Things Are is a bit more well-mannered than wild. But that won't keep your little wild things from having a lot of fun with it.
This stage version (which premiered at MTYP in 2002) is based on Maurice Sendak's classic 1963 picture book - a story that's delightfully anarchic, but slight. And that shows in this hour-long production, with a few moments that seem to stretch out a thin story.
But the basic plot remains intact, young Max is sent to bed without dinner for misbehaving, and imagines a land of "wild things" he comes to rule. Here, the kids in the audience become Max's wild things, and there's plenty of opportunity for audience participation. Kids (and adults - we're not let off the hook) will be asked to join in as everything from sea monsters to trees to Max's feral subjects.
The extra help comes in handy, since director Kim Selody's smartly lean production relies on just two actors - Linda Carson, who does double duty as our narrator and Max's mom, and Raes Calvert as Max. They both bring great energy to the show, and do a wonderful job of making their young audience feel welcome to participate - while deftly keeping things from becoming too chaotic.
But if there's room for improvement with Wild Things, it might be to allow for a bit more chaos. The kids at the performance I saw politely waited for permission to get up and begin the "wild rumpus" that ends Max's reign as king of the wild things. A sign that the ground rules for the show had been well established, but also that there's probably room for the show to relax the reins a bit.