In another spate of Game of Thrones-inspired shows this festival, the Baby Wants Candy improvised musical team brings us a new, non-improvised production lampooning the globally successful HBO TV series. Alas, they should’ve stuck with the improv.
In fairness, hidden amongst the awkward writing, off-key singing, and puerile gags, there are some fleeting gems. The targets of its mockery may be mostly easy (the much-flogged-horse of its male-gaze sex scenes; the merciless murdering of major characters), Thrones! does have moments of insightful cynicism and clever irony, and the seasoned cast is one the audience warm to very readily.
Unfortunately, for every well aimed jab, there are a dozen wide misses. The opening scene’s potential (a full-cast song about addictive TV shows and their spoilers – how meta!) is squandered; the rest of the performance is just crass jokes about incest, Peter Dinklage’s accent, and winter (literally) coming. The musical is essentially a series of sketches, loosely strung together as a GoT “crash course”: all phony wigs, cheesy numbers, and pantomime accents as they initiate a friend into the sprawling series, but the net result is a bit confused. The shoehorned narrative isn’t strong enough to stand on its own, but then neither are the jokey skits or the clumsy songwriting, leaving little else to engage with.
There’s nothing wrong with a lo-fi production (the Jon Snow wig is, admittedly, pretty funny), and for something so unashamedly on-trend (for the Netflix generation, at least) it can’t afford to—and doesn’t—take itself too seriously. But beyond the cheap laughs, and the few performers who can actually sing, Thrones! The Musical is neither a polished production nor an inventive parody.