“The writers have their work cut out for them because there’s a new one every week, but I think they love it,” said Tim Sniffen, veteran Baby Wants Candy cast member.
“The bulk of the script stays the same for the whole run, but we have to learn the new lines pretty quickly. Many of us come from improv, which changes every night, so you have to keep your mind agile to bring the new things in. We’ve done sketch comedy, in which you never want to be too beholden to the script so you can keep it fresh, so we’re all used to working in a similar process, and we enjoy the challenge.”
Although Thrones! creators roll out fresh updates each week, audiences don’t have to be made up solely of fans of the TV show. The play takes place at a Game of Thrones party where Linda, having never seen it, is forced to watch as her friends re-enact all six seasons to catch her up.
Naturally, if you’re wary of spoilers then this might not be the show for you… Along with GoT, the cast helpfully include spoilers to Harry Potter, The Usual Suspects, The Sixth Sense, and others, before advising that The Wire only takes two and a half seasons to appreciate. However, this doesn’t stop tickets from selling out.
Thrones! has completely sold out its entire Fringe runs at the previous two festivals, along with shows in Chicago and Los Angeles in the last seven months. Tickets for Thrones! at this year’s festival are already selling out, with celebrated improvised musical Baby Wants Candy doing just as well.
The same cast perform the parody at 4:55pm before the improv musical at 9:30pm, for the entire festival. Despite the demands of two shows every night, the cast thrive off the buzz of performing.
“Personally, I don’t feel a lot of difference,” said actor Megan Reilly, who appears as fan favourites Daenerys, Joffrey and Ygritte.
“I’ve been doing a lot of improv for the last four years, so I haven’t really done a scripted show for a while. But it’s been great fun to have someone else create the words you get to bring to life. The Thrones! process is unique because it goes up so quickly, so the techniques we use to get into character have to be jacked up, heightened and at their best.”
“The team element is totally different: we’re all dropped in to rehearsals for both shows at the same time, but we live together so get to spend a lot of time together. It totally helps everyone to get to know each other and get used to each other. It’s crucial for the shows: you want to know the ebb and flow of the people on stage with you, their strengths and weaknesses, what they like and don’t like to do.”
With an improv group performing a scripted show, it may seem easier to let the script do the brunt of the work when performing, but where improv encourages actors to take the lead to allow fluidity to the show a script’s structure means the cast are far more reliant on each other.
“There’s a saying in improv: don’t be polite. Don’t wait for someone else to do something, be the person that does it, because honestly the person that does it is the person that’s helping,” Reilly said.
Sniffen agreed, saying that the “Improv show is like playtime. With Thrones! you have to do it somewhat correctly or you ruin the show. If you’re suddenly not saying a line for someone else to react to then you’re screwing them over; I’m glad we do his one first because our second show is just ‘no rules’, but the script for this one is great and a lot of fun.”
The parody follows the same person-focus as Martin’s novels and HBO’s adaptation; the cast clearly value knowing each other both on and off stage, and the strength of those relationships is what keeps audiences returning more each year.
Winter is coming, and so are the fans, so act quick to catch the show at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe.
Thrones! The Musical Parody runs from 5th-28th August for £15pp at Studio One, Assembly George Square. Baby Wants Candy runs from 5th-27th August for £15pp at Studio One, Assembly George Square.
Purchase Thrones! The Musical Parody tickets here.
Purchase Baby Wants Candy tickets here.