Thrones! The Musical Parody review: Winter brings howling in-joke
THRONES! THE MUSICAL PARODY ★★★
Playhouse, June 6
Reviewed by JOHN SHAND
One could become an outsider at school just by not watching the must-see soapie of the time. Now the whole world seems split into two camps: those obsessed with Game of Thrones, and those who can't tell their Lannisters from their Starks. The latter, presumably, are sweet souls whose interests lie outside sex, violence, religion, politics, fantasy, medievalism, human nature, good acting and better writing. My advice to them is simple: don't go and see Thrones! The Musical Parody, because you'll have as much idea of what's going on as the Federal Police and its bosses do of the concept of a free press.
This piece of frippery is strictly for fans and, even then, not all. Originating in Los Angeles, and doing a fair job of touring as much of the known world as Tyrion Lannister does in the TV series, it demands prior familiarity with the vast web of characters. In fact, it might be the most elaborate "in" joke in the history of entertainment, given that even someone who's read George RR Martin's books (on which the series is based) would be baffled without also knowing the screen actors' performances.
The set-up is that Linda (Leslie Collins) hasn't seen the show, so her friends, played by Eric Michaud, Jordan Stidham, Ashley Ward, Mary Lou Kolbenschlag and Albert Samuels (one of the five writers), fill her in by enacting a shorthand version of what's transpired prior to the final series. They don makeshift silly costumes and outrageous wigs to sing songs that, idiomatically, are just a narrow sea away from, say, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.
The Chris Grace-directed show is underpinned by an affection for the source material, and, at its best is very funny. Stidham's Jon Snow and Michaud's Tyrion are especially amusing, thanks to their heightened approximations of the voices, and Kolbenscaug's death of Joffrey is a Pythonesque gem.
The downside is that for every slice of hilarity there is an equal and opposite lump of undergraduate lameness. The creators needed to be more ruthless with their own material, which doesn't begin to sustain the 140-minute length (including interval). It could use more moments where theatrical magic and sight-gag zaniness intersect brilliantly, such as when an umbrella replicates a dragon. Yes, really.
Until June 30.
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