Reviewed by Natalie Low
As a fan of Game of Thrones (Seasons 1 through 6, sometimes 7. Let’s try not to acknowledge 8.), Joffrey! The Pantomime is an eye-catcher for those attending Fringe. The moment you enter, you meet Joffrey – or rather a much nicer version than what fans of the series might be used to. Joffrey provides a disclaimer for those who might be confused why a pantomime of a show that wrapped up in 2019 would still be performed at Edinburgh Fringe in 2022: The show was meant to be performed 2 years ago, but thanks to our favourite pandemic, this was when they could make their debut.
Joffrey! The Pantomime is a reimagining of what Season 1 of the beloved HBO series could have been if Joffrey was the good guy. They don’t forget to get the audience involved, asking them to yell “Hello Prince Joffrey!” whenever he comes onstage, and “boo!” when the villains (The Starks) are onstage. The parody is layered with inside joke on inside joke, and sprinkled with commentary on the actual series – calling out the sometimes bad writing, and weird logic of the fantasy series. The set is very simple, a chair with a cardboard cut-out resembling the Iron Throne puts the audience in the mood of what is to come. The lighting design is simple, with the only colour used is green when the villains come onstage, there is nothing significant about it.
The chemistry between the cast members are great – allowing the show to carry seamlessly throughout this show that sometimes has jokes so ridiculous but you can overlook because the cast isn’t taking themselves too seriously either. The standouts are the actors playing Joffrey and mother Cersei. Joffrey’s actor brought on the perfect energy for the leading actor tasked with interacting with the audience – being able to get an audience onboard to interact with the story, and being able to showcase Joffrey’s signature brattiness just enough without it being annoying. Littlefinger’s actor is meant to be a comic relief, but perhaps a little bit unnecessary for a pantomime. The recurring jokes about the character having extremely small hands and being unable to lift a spoon feels very random and does not necessarily add to the story. The villains – being Ned and Sansa Stark in this version, is a clever choice and presents a different side to the classic. Ned’s character is funny and is just annoying enough to believe as the villain, while Sansa’s actor is a little too quiet at times though charming. There is a joke in the pantomime about Sansa’s lack of character development through the series, and perhaps this is where the pantomime succeeds in being able to showcase a little bit more of a personality in Sansa.
Joffrey! The Pantomime is an hour of random inside jokes that is a good time for a Game of Thrones fan, but be warned: If you have never had any interaction with the series, this is definitely not for you.