First, let me be clear so we’re all on the same page: Game of Thrones: The Rock Musical is not a Broadway-level production. It’s an Off-Broadway show, but even that classification doesn’t do it justice. It’s more like a musical sketch put together by a group of local suburban high school students who like getting to feel edgy by saying swear words and humping each other on stage. And judging it by those terms, I’ll say: Nice! There was some real talent up there, kids. Very… creative!
The musical takes place not in a high school cafeteria before the vice principal announces senior superlatives and awards for service but rather on the third floor of what appeared at first to be a midtown office building but turned out to be the Jerry Orbach Theater. Before you enter the theater itself, you can take a picture sitting in an Adirondack chair that someone covered in aluminum siding to look like the Iron Throne. Fun! A guy dressed as Hodor holds the door for you as you enter to get to your seats. Also fun! The musical begins with a guy dressed as George R.R. Martin (complete with a pillow in his shirt) offering an opening, rhyming introduction, which is… you know… fun!
But unfortunately, the fun of Game of Thrones: The Rock Musical doesn’t go any further than really whatever pleasure you might take from that basic concept. It’s difficult to call the show a satire when it never actually commits to satirizing anything. Instead, it’s a hastily written regurgitation of the first season of Game of Thrones with jokes that you would have rolled your eyes at if you heard them five years ago. The songs — which all sound more or less the same — have lyrics that feel like a random passerby on the street was held at gunpoint and told to write some rhymes as fast as possible. Case in point, the lyrics of the opening song:
“This story is a game of thrones, it is a game of thrones /
Where all your favorite characters are in the danger zone /
Lords and ladies slaughtering to be the one true king /
To sit upon the iron throne would be their favorite thing.”
The rest of the show shares that stanza’s level of insight. Some of their “clever” “observations” about Westeros include: Jamie and Cersei are twins who have sex! The Dothraki language sounds silly and involves tongue wagging (Khal Drogo, whose chest is adorned with the words “Tribal Paint,” says, “Cash me outside how bou’ dat.”) That “Wall” up north sure has a lot in common with that wall Trump has said he wants to build! Did you want someone to recite that “They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. Some, I assume, are good people” speech while wearing a Party City cape? Then this is the show for you. (Just in case the joke went over your head, the character pulls on a red baseball cap as he delivers the line.) Jokes are less “ha ha” funny and more “I guess that’s a reference to a thing that exists, huh” funny.
There are two small moments from the show that infuriate me equally: First, at one point, Tyrion talks to Jamie and Cersei about them being twins who have sex. As Cersei leaves, Tyrion says, “Dat ass doe.” It is very dumb.
The second moment is when King Robert arrives at Winterfell to ask Ned Stark to be his hand. The two size each other up and swap insults (“You’ve gotten fat!” “Look at you, you old bastard!” etc) and then, a moment of tension for everyone around them, and they hug, revealing it was all in good fun. That’s a little cliché moment that actually happens in the real episode of Game of Thrones. They just reenact a scene that happened, but worse.
Also, a big running gag is that Hodor can only say the word “Hodor,” which, again, is less of a gag and more of a factual observation of the show as it exists. I left the theater bitter about the world and most people in it.
Look, this isn’t a good show. But if you’re just incredibly excited about a Game of Thrones musical as a general concept, and you’re a good sport and have a beer or two and come with whichever friend of yours likes Family Guy the most, I’m sure you’ll have fun. Well, not “sure.” Maybe have three beers. D
Game of Thrones: The Rock Musical is playing at The Theater Center until Oct. 29. Find more information on the show’s website.