2013 Next Stage Theatre Festival Review: Throne of Games (Bad Dog Theatre Company)

The profound heft of a phrase like “Winter is coming” sort of loses its tenor when there’s frosted white stuff floating around and a chilly bite in the air, but Bad Dog Theatre Company is still bent on luring you into the Next Stage Festival with those very words and one of their latest unscripted romps. Throne of Games takes improvisation to the realm of fantasy with a slightly different portrayal of George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones.

Sitting in the nearly-full house of Factory Theatre’s main space, I was trying to rack my memory for as many details from Game of Thrones as I could. I had a feeling that there might be a lot of great comedic tidbits lost if I couldn’t muster any.

Luckily, I didn’t have to trudge too far through my recollections, but I’m fairly sure that if I wasn’t especially familiar with George R.R. Martin’s source material, the show wouldn’t have gotten too many guffaws out of me. Suffice it to say, if you’re not at all familiar with the fantasy franchise in any of its forms, this one might not be for you.

Boasting a generous cast of Toronto’s best comedic minds, I was a little surprised to find that the performance fell a tad flat at times. There was a lot of uneventful standing around on stage and more than a fair share of actors bowling over others’ attempted jokes, which meddled with the pace. I have a feeling that this is mostly due to it being an opening night show.

That being said, I think the essence of the show, which is improvised comedy, allows for some leeway in the varying quality of performance. I still laughed a lot and the zingers that flew at me were actually sidesplittingly hilarious. The audience participation factor was still present without being overbearing, and I’m pretty sure that if I caught the show on another night later in the run, I’d be heaps more impressed. Actually, if you are a Game of Thrones aficionado, I’d recommend doing just that.


Photo of Kris Siddiqi by Jacklyn Atlas.