TORONTO - For fans of George R. R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" tomes and the hit HBO adaptation "Game of Thrones," there's now another way to experience the world of Westeros.
Given the immense popularity of the fantasy book series and the ratings-winner TV remake it perhaps shouldn't come as a surprise that comics have found the epic story ripe for parody.
Toronto fans of the show can check out "Throne of Games," an improv comedy show that's recreating the drama of Martin's first book over the course of four hour-long performances.
Improv comedy isn't always the easiest sell, says show producer and actress Alice Moran, but incorporating themes from popular culture has been hugely popular. The Comedy Bar, where "Throne of Games" is being staged, is also home to another improv take on a mainstream hit, the British drama "Downton Abbey."
"We take something the audience already knows and loves and is accessible to them and make it a comedy," says Moran, noting the Bad Dog Theatre Company has also staged shows based on "Mad Men," "Battlestar Galactica" and "Deadwood."
"It's easier to sell as opposed to, like, 'This is theatre games... oh, don't leave!"
Director and actor Colin Munch says figuring out how to condense the epic story — which spans nearly 1,000 pages in paperback and about 10 hours on TV — wasn't easy.
"It was brutal cutting it down," he says.
"(We) were really keen on the show being accessible to anyone but we're also giant nerds and we wanted to include as much as possible.
"Basically we have a set beginning and end for every episode ... and that is all set in stone and that's all things that happen in the series and in the novels. But everything in between is all improvised."
Munch thinks "Game of Thrones" newbies would still enjoy the show — and would be ready to jump into the second book or season of the TV show.
"You'll get extra jokes if you're familiar with the material but if not, you're just seeing a surprisingly high-production value improv show."
The production values may be high for improv but the show is still staged on a shoe-string budget.
"I don't know what people's expectations are for an improv show but it's generally much lower than an HBO special — I would hope," Moran says.
For costumes, there was a lot of begging, borrowing and stealing to recreate the look of the medieval series. A school's costume supplies were raided, favours were called in, and bathmats from IKEA were fashioned into remarkably convincing fur accessories.
The first part of the improv series was staged this week and the following three instalments are scheduled for the next three Wednesdays.
Munch and Moran are already thinking ahead to the next production.
"We'll do the first season this month and maybe we'll put it up again but probably when we do it again we'll go into 'A Clash of Kings' or season 2."