A Vancouver TheatreSports production. At the Improv Centre on Friday, November 29. Continues until December 24
In recent years, enjoying a romantic comedy about a prince or princess falling in love with a “commoner” during Christmas has become a holiday guilty pleasure for many people. One can argue that Netflix’s A Christmas Prince is responsible for this trend. And now Vancouver TheatreSports has jumped in on the fun with its own version. Merry Kissmas: A Royal Romance is the improv troupe’s holiday-themed show and it’s packed full of cheeky humour that will keep audiences roaring with laughter.
Have you ever noticed how a lot of films that involve royal families are set in countries that don’t seem to ring a bell? For example, A Christmas Prince takes place in Aldovia—try finding that one on a map. In this same spirit, on the night that I attended Merry Kissmas: A Royal Romance, the setting of choice was a country by the name of Provdovia. According to the show’s host, Chris Garland—who is apparently a famous celebrity wedding planner—Provdovia is located in the “northern southwest-southeast” region of Europe. But this location tends to fluctuate throughout the show—the “northeast-southwest” or some other concoction of vague coordinates.
Seeing how Provdovia isn’t all that well-known, the first act of the show focuses on educating audiences about this fascinating country. On opening night, Chris (played by Margret Nyfors) led five other members of Vancouver TheatreSports’ ensemble in bringing everyone up to speed on Provdovia’s culture—like its love of incorporating holiday-themed activities into its cultural dances. Taking suggestions from the audience, the cast of improv experts showed how this is done—working in everything from bobsledding to buying diamonds, to a surprisingly sexy way of putting on mittens that involves a lot of flexibility.
For the remainder of the first act, audience members are frequently invited to join the troupe on-stage as a variety of TheatreSports games are played to further educate the crowd on Provdovia, from preparing its favourite foods, to what children like to leave for Santa.
The second act is the “royal wedding” part of the program, where one lucky audience member experiences an A Christmas Prince–like romance. Because the guest on opening night was a dental hygienist, the troupe decided that she and Prince Allen (played by Allen Morrison) met at her dental office, where the royal was posing as a dentist.
The actors led the audience participant through a familiar romcom formula as the royal wedding day approached, complete with a lovable best friend, a scheming villain, a misunderstanding that put the wedding in jeopardy, and a happy ending. Always quick on their feet, the troupe did a fantastic job of playing around to make the story work, no matter how silly things got.
Merry Kissmas is a ton of fun, and audiences familiar with holiday-themed romcoms will be especially amused. There’s also no need to worry if you’re the type of person who prefers not to participate. As rowdy and hilarious as Merry Kissmas is, the cast respects audience comfort levels, and there’s a warm, inclusive atmosphere.
So while many of us may never actually experience a royal wedding firsthand, at least we can travel to the northwest-southeast-southwest region of Europe and enjoy this lively spoof.