April 7, 2016 24 Hours Vancouver, by Brian Patterson
Bust out the broadswords and dust off the dragons: Throne and Games — A Chance of Snow has come to Vancouver TheatreSports League.
The Game of Thrones-inspired parody features irreverent and unchained Vancouver TheatreSports League performers engaging in unscripted, comedic combat using personas from the hit TV show.
“It’s six performers and one host, which is always Petyr ‘Littlefinger’ Baelish (that’s my guy),” I’m told by show creator and performer Graeme Duffy, as he explained the rules of the competition. “We start at The Wall, because Game of Thrones’ last season ended with a big cliff hanger there when a main character died. A group of individual mourners show up to pay their respects, but — as with everything in Westeros — the funeral turns into a blood bath.” The “blood bath” in question refers to a series of improvised games and challenges fuelled by suggestions from the floor. At the end of each exchange, audience members choose a winner and, in true Game of Thrones fashion, the losing character is sent to their death.
A sequel to VTSL smash hit, Throne and Games — Laughter is Coming, the current iteration offers an entirely new experience for the cast and audience.
“Last year [the improvisers] primarily worked in family based-pairs: Cersei and Jaime; Arya and Sansa; Drogo and Khaleesi,” Duffy offered. “This year it’s an individual elimination style with single characters who are there for their own reasons.”
Duffy’s inspiration to move away from team-based competition came directly from the TV show itself.
“Alliances are really a mess in Game of Thrones right now,” he explained. “Arya is blind. Bran can’t walk. Cersei’s been stripped and marched through the streets. They’re all in such tragic places now, which is what feeds the individual nature of this year’s show. Nobody can trust anybody and they’re all trying to survive.”
To populate these desperate ranks, Vancouver TheatreSports League has some serious talent to draw upon. Their full roster consists of 30 improvisers — each of whom has prepared their own twisted take on multiple characters from the show.
“It’s going to be completely different each night. On any given evening, [audiences] will see a different cast of characters vying for power and trying to live,” Duffy enthused. “It’s a lot of Game of Thrones characters for your dollar.”
To raise the bar further, Duffy has set a challenge to keep as current with the TV show as possible, going so far as to exclude any characters who are dead in season five. With season six going to air April 24, he even hinted that Throne and Games may continue to update itself as new episodes become available.
When asked what made Game of Thrones so ripe for parody and why this madcap adaptation held such overwhelming appeal, Duffy’s answer was simple.
“It’s deliciously tragic – which is great for comedy.”
The show runs through May 28 at the Improv Centre on Granville Island.
Brian Paterson studied acting at the Canadian College of Performing Arts and Ryerson University Theatre School. He is head of digital at Laura Murray PR, an arts and culture marketing agency in Vancouver.