Winter is Coming

2014pt3_Fringe_winter is comingThe impact a television show has had is undeniable when all that is required of the cast of a spoof show is to walk onstage and sing the theme to receive a joyful round of applause; with thousands of pages of George R R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire in print and forty hours of the television show Game of Thrones over four seasons, there is a vast well to be tapped for inspiration and an eager audience ready to share their enthusiasm for one of the most consistently compelling, involving, shocking and meticulously crafted shows on the prestigious HBO network.

What is presented is a standard student musical hung on the hook of a hit show without any real understanding of why the show is a hit or any attempt to emulate or satirise it, with the barest connection to Martin’s narrative, random quotes overlaid on a generic show with nothing incisive to say about the story or the genre. Created and performed by Vince Milesi, Michelle Brasier, James Baker, Leo Milesi and Laura Frew, this is a painfully amateur show without one post-modern hint that they might be sending up themselves, all that shines through is the unremitting awful.

When Vince tells Michelle that she can’t be Khaleesi because she can’t sing, dance or act, he is oblivious that it is himself he is describing, for all that is revealed in his stage hogging is that he is a terrible actor, while poor Laura and Leo are relegated to understudies. In fact, both Michelle and Laura can sing, and in his one moment where his permitted to make a significant contribution Leo makes a surprisingly scary White Walker, though keyboard player James’ time is principally spent looking as uncomfortable as the audience; it would be preferable had he simply been done with it and played the Rains of Castermere.

Focusing on about how shoddy standards are within amateur dramatics where egos supercede talent, no effort is made to introduce or explain Game of Thrones for those who are not already versed in it until half way through when a précis of the opening skips to the Red Wedding with no attempt to bridge the narrative gulf. There is no effort to build character, no invention in the use of props or costumes, the only moment of inspiration Sansa’s naughty dance in the style of Britney Spears at her wedding to King Joffrey, curtailed before the crucial conclusion.

A better approach would have been for the actors to each play in the style of one of the houses of Westeros, allying, conspiring, seducing, betraying, but instead it is a vanity piece for one actor, the other three being totally dominated by his charmless and inelegant bellowing. Even if the writers did not have dedication to read the entire series, they could have watched enough of the show to attempt to stay on topic for one single hour without repeatedly falling back on Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter jokes which serve only to prove how out of touch they are with their intended audience, seguing into Narnia as an excuse for Khaleesi Vince to take off his skirt and reveal his furred Mr Tumnus legs.

To attempt Game of Thrones in a Fringe show whose budget cannot hope to compete is an unreasonable expectation, so it must play to the strengths it can muster; Tyrion Lannister may be small in stature but he has become the defining character who has transcended the show, his incisive wit commanding attention, his barbed repartee having often proven him the master of men twice his size, but unable to demonstrate anything approaching a grasp of the complexity of their chosen subject or the reasons for its success, Winter is Coming is a cold excuse for a show.

The flyer boasts the achievement of the company at the Green Room awards including best musical direction, presumably won through feeding the competition poisoned pigeon pie. Backwards Anorak fail utterly on every conceivable artistic level, yet is not even so terrible as to pass the time as car crash entertainment, it is simply embarrassing, the most apt description the observation about “degrees in musical theatre but no real life skills.” For a superior comedy of unprofessional behind the scenes behaviour see Out Cast Theatre’s The Importance of Being Earnest as performed by Three Queens and a Duck; for a more entertaining and intelligent analysis of a popular television show which has grown to be a phenomenon see Dan Willis talking about The Walking Dead.

Winter is Coming continues until Monday 25th August

Should you choose to attend, please be warned that while not announced in the Fringe programme the show does contain strobe lighting




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