Graeme of Thrones│Playhouse @ Westport Plaza

The innovation of the show is what really makes this production shine.

The Playhouse at Westport Plaza turns itself into the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros by staging the theatrical parody, Graeme of Thrones. An original and unauthorized parody of the HBO sensation Game of Thrones, the three-person production touches on a wealth of the show’s theatrical highpoints. So gather up your ladies of ill repute, raise your house banner, and settle in for a hilarious night of fast and loose theater, for as the tagline of the show states, “Laughter is Coming.”

The actual plot of the show is simple: Graeme (Ali Brice) wants to recreate George R.R. Martin’s saga on the stage. With the help of his fellow actors, Bryony (Libby Northedge) and Paul (Michael Condron), Graeme courts potential investors (the audience) with the vision of his production in hopes they will invest in the “super safe and lucrative” world of the theater.

From the opening sequence involving a creative beheading to the recreation of the opening sequence utilizing golden hula hoops, the innovation of the show is what really makes this production shine. The three actors do a phenomenal job in creating dozens of characters from the show as well as creating some memorable fantasy scenes that left me (and the audience) in stitches.

One of these fantasy scenes involved Bryony recreating Robert Baratheon’s death by wild boar from the viewpoint of the boar. At first, the scene seemed to be out of place, but Northedge’s commitment to character was remarkable as she took us on a journey that showcased her brilliant acting ability. This sequence was one of many excellent performances by Northedge throughout the night. Her Daenerys Targaryen was on fire, her scene recreating Sansa Stark’s first voyage into womanhood left me dripping with laughter, and her portrayal as Oberyn Martell during his fight scene with the Mountain was tremendous.

That’s another aspect of this production—audience participation. For Martell’s legendary fight scene, Bryony brought up an audience member to stand in for the Mountain. I must commend Matt, the audience member picked, for being a wonderful sport and giving his performance a healthy dose of enthusiasm.

Special note to the first five of six rows of the audience – you will be involved in the production one way or the other, so if you have your Gallagher ponchos from the 80s, you may want to dust them off. You have been forewarned.

Condron, who has actually appeared in two seasons of the actual Game of Thrones, as Bowen Marsh, did a fabulous job in all of his comedic roles. Whether he was being born as the demon from Melisandre’s womb or serving hot man-on-man shaving realness as Loras Tyrell, Condron always managed to camp up his role. Even as he created the “waterfall” onstage, he seized the moment by giving the audience his amazing deadpan humor.

Brice in the role of Graeme was endearing, charming, and loveable. While his passion to put on this production for the investors was adorable, it was the scenes he interacted with the audience that felt a bit too strained. The pregnant pauses were a bit too pregnant as these scenes caused the momentum of the show to sputter. That said, his performances during the action scenes were hilarious to watch. His combination performance of Viserys/Illyrio was a sight that has to be seen; his Renly was over the top hysterical; and his Jorah Mormont was spot on with a fantastic wig that even had the character’s bald spot.

While I have touched on only a small fraction of the characters and events brought to life, that is the charm of this show. It is so packed with Game of Thrones references that even an uber-fan such as myself may have missed one or two of them. On the way home, my plus one was still laughing at how Rob Stark’s character said his two favorite things were the color red and weddings and how he hopes that never changes. This is the type of show true fans might have to see more than once to fully appreciate the full brilliance of the story.

While avid fans of the show will be laughing throughout, audience members not so familiar with the series may be left out in the cold. But then that poses the question, why aren’t you a fan of the show? Fortunately, my household is 100 percent fans of the series and of this production of Graeme of Thrones. I can’t remember the last time I crowed that hard and that long at a show in St. Louis. Be sure to squire your tickets to this magical production before it packs it in for the winter—that never comes. │ Jim Ryan

Graeme of Thrones runs through February 26. For ticket information, visit http://www.westportstl.com/play/playhouse.

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