Thrones! The Musical

The opening salvo of this musical Game of Thrones pastiche has such brazen, devilish promise that for a while I entertained the possibility of being blown away by it. Dips in quality during the hour of medieval-ish frippery gradually eliminated that possibility, but this remains a mostly well-pitched and, crucially, funny show.

There’s no point to the show. It’s a categorically trivial creation. And for fans of the series, that’s really where the joy of it will lie.

Now if you’ve never seen the sex-filled, blade-wielding dragony death-fest that is HBO’s Game of Thrones, this parody (from American comedy troupe Baby Wants Candy, here straying from their improv roots) is probably not for you. Arguably you could enjoy it vicariously through the uproarious reactions it’s capable of provoking, or because of its excellent choreography and music – but if you don’t know, for example, how dangerous The Mountain is, much of the content here is likely to sail straight over your hideously maimed head.

So back to the opening number. It’s a frank, spoiler-filled and ballsy preface for what is to come: this musical is based on the show, and 'if you just read the books, fuck you.' Then there’s the ‘real’ opening, with four friends hanging out and waiting for the final GoT episode to air. In a vague attempt to ingratiate the concept with the Thrones-illiterate among the crowd, one of the four, Brad, is revealed to be ignorant of the entire series, prompting a truly heroic rendition of about 100 character names: a framing device that allows us to meet many of said characters. This irreverent one-two sets the scene for a show that operates entirely on its own terms.

After the two excellent hors-d’oeuvres, the main course of the show does get a bit bland, with a few standout numbers almost getting lost in the endless parade of characters. Push It Out is a brilliant amalgamation of several storylines, while You Know Nothing, Jon Snow is a crude, lyrical delight. But many one-dimensional songs – among them Daenerys on putting up with the Dothraki predilection for anal sex, and Joffrey and Ramsey on their shared love of torture – pale in comparison. The group couldn’t have denied Daenerys her own song, but this straightforward offering doesn't justify its own presence.

Because the wackier the better, really. The frequency of references (Gimli, Lana Del Rey, you name it) grates a little, but outside of these, the production really succeeds in its whimsical moments. Jon Snow glistens as a snivelling slimeball of honour: he's a pastiche the show has really nailed, but he stands alone. Everyone else is either a bit too obvious or too fuzzy around the edges. Sometimes the attempts at going off-piste fail – the White Walkers’ boyband probably sounded better as an idea – but this is exactly the kind of thing they should explore further. The concept of the production affords them an opportunity to be uncompromisingly playful, one which I can't help feeling they've partially squandered.

Occasionally Thrones! will also tread the path of poor taste: there’s a couple of moments, including a misjudged mention of Jimmy Savile, that fall noticeably flat. Still, the replication of an iconic scene involving Cersei is brilliantly random and even manages to comment meaningfully about misogyny within the series.

Any seriousness here is anomalous, though. There’s no point to the show. It’s a categorically trivial creation. And for fans of the series, that’s really where the joy of it will lie.

Broadway Baby interview with Baby Wants Candy

Reviews by Larry Bartleet

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

From the twisted minds of Baby Wants Candy. ***** (Scotsman). ***** (WhatsOnStage.com). ***** (Time Out). ***** (ThreeWeeks). Ridiculously handsome men battling White Walkers, ridiculously beautiful women riding fire-breathing dragons, and everyone trying to either kill or shag each other, Thrones! is a racy, gory, hilarious parody of HBO's phenomenally successful Game of Thrones. Whip-smart writing, a catchy original musical score, super-special special effects. Nudity? Maybe. Laughs? For sure. Brothers and sisters f*cking? No comment. Appropriate for 14+, if you don't mind explaining a few things to your 14-year-old after the show.