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.
Two blokes on a darkened stage littered with mysteriously shrouded bits of scenery take on Harry Potter to an audience crowded with Potter fans. It will all be a bit puzzling if you don’t have the knowledge of all seven Harry Potter novels.
However, the heroic attempt to stage the epic soon comes unstuck, although there is a somewhat unsteady go at maintaining the right order of events. Performers James Percy and Joseph Maudsley are skilled comics and the whole thing happily degenerates into a kind of pantomime with audience involvement.
James, who mostly plays Harry, is the one who is trying to keep some kind of order. Joe’s take on the huge range of characters he has to play becomes increasingly wacky, as does his approach to the finding of appropriate set and props.
Expect everything from a possibly Narnian wardrobe to references to Star Wars and Game of Thrones. There’s a bit of downright vulgarity and a certain amount of giggling as the procession of roles takes place among rapid changes in the wings and behind the wardrobe. It’s clever and speedy.
And then there’s Quidditch, the rather strange game played at Harry’s school, Hogwarts.
The Quidditch match staged in this show is a real highlight. It’s certainly the show’s big number. It comes complete with huge goal rings on either side of the theatre, an inflated globe of the world being tossed about by the audience, a couple of young audience members on stage and a quite magnificent realisation of the Golden Snitch by James.
In amongst all the banter and gags there’s a suggestion of some of the original’s power and magic. There’s lots of smoke and a sense of mystery. The audience helps by turning up full of knowledge and in many cases wearing costume. Joe’s Snape has a rather striking melancholy as well as the Alan Rickman snarl and it stands out among a range of rapid portrayals that include a growling Hermione, a red haired Ron, a shaggy Scots speaking Hagrid and a devil’s horn-wearing Voldemort who later descends to wearing some kind of mankini.
James has a moment where he deplores the boring nature of playing heroes like Harry but the Snitch makes up for that.
The pair of them make an excellent team and the hour and a half of the show passes quickly. But it really is one for the fans. Luckily for the production Harry Potter has no shortage of those. If you are one, go and enjoy an evening of broad and affectionate parody.