Harry Potter in under an hour and a half
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Harry Potter in under an hour and a half

Potted Potter: The Unauthorised Harry Experience. A Parody by Dan and Jeff. Written and created by Daniel Clarkson & Jefferson Turner. Set design by Simon Scullion. Lighting design by Tim Mascall. Music composed by Phil Innes Direction and additional material by Richard Hurst. Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and Potted Productions. The Canberra Theatre, April 4 to 7. canberratheatrecentre.com.au or 6275 2700.

Scott Hoatson, left and Joseph Maudsley in <i>Potted Potter</i>.

Scott Hoatson, left and Joseph Maudsley in Potted Potter.

J.K. Rowling's seven Harry Potter novels have a combined total of 1,084,170 words on 6,095 pages. The eight movies adapted from the books fill 1179 minutes.

Potted Potter: The Unauthorised Harry Experience. A Parody by Dan and Jeff covers - and parodies - the whole saga on stage in 80 minutes.

Two performers race through the story with its familiar characters - Harry, Dumbledore, Ron, Hermione et al - along with songs, costumes and even, somehow, a game of Quidditch.

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Potted Potter has been an international hit. It played for 30 weeks off-Broadway across two seasons, as well as having five West End runs and multiple North American and Australasian tours. Potted Potter has also been to Ireland, South Africa, Malaysia and Dubai and been performed on cruise ships.

Although Rowling has not, to Clarkson and Turner's knowledge, seen the show, they have attracted some of the films' actors including Warwick Davis (who played Professor Filius Flitwick and Griphook) and Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom).

The show came to Australia in 2012, 2014 and 2018, and in April it's coming to Canberra for the first time.

Jefferson Turner says in 2005, he and Potted Potter co-creator Daniel Clarkson were actors who were commissioned by a bookshop to create and perform a five-minute street show recapping the first five books of the Harry Potter saga. It was for customers waiting in line to buy the sixth book in the series at midnight.

Scott Hoatson, left and Joseph Maudsley in <i>Potted Potter</i>.

Scott Hoatson, left and Joseph Maudsley in Potted Potter.

"We were expecting 100 people and there were more than 1000," he said.

"Harry Potter is quite popular, really."

Ah, there's that droll British understatement. But what happened afterwards became increasingly difficult to play down.

In 2006 Turner and Clarkson expanded the street show into Potted Potter, a one-hour performance parodying the first six books, then partnered with producer James Seabright and director Dominic Knutton to present a new version of the show in October the same year.

In 2007, working with director Richard Hurst, things really took off for the duo - and Potted Potter. There was a British tour, during which the seventh book was incorporated into the show just a few days after its release, as well as a Christmas run at Trafalgar Studios in the West End. This was when matters became serious.

"It wasn't until we had the show on the road that we wrote it down on paper," Turner says. Before that they were just getting up and doing what they'd worked out at every performance.

The duo undertook another British tour in 2008, playing at the Edinburgh Fringe and in London, and launched their second show, Potted Pirates (in part inspired by the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but "the less said about that, the better").

The Potted pieces continued with Potted Panto (2010), a show which had its greatest success in Britain where pantomime is a long-established tradition, and another that is "such a fun show to perform", Potted Sherlock (2014).

Turner says he and Clarkson have performed the show, "off and on, for 13 years - 1600 times".

Starting in 2009, they eased off performing in it to some extent, working as BBC children's presenters and sending a Potted Potter company to Australia and New Zealand. They returned for a third Trafalgar Studios Christmas run that year.

Since then, they've been developing and touring their other Potted shows - and there are a lot of possible sources of material, so the Potted productions could keep on coming indefinitely.

Scott Hoatson, left and Joseph Maudsley in <i>Potted Potter</i>.

Scott Hoatson, left and Joseph Maudsley in Potted Potter.

Neither Turner nor Clarkson are on the current Australian tour - and Turner has never been to this country, professionally or otherwise.

But, he says, he might come for a holiday in the near future.

"Watch this space."

Ron Cerabona is an arts reporter for The Canberra Times.

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