A Playful Parody – Potted Potter Returns to The Seymour Centre

Potted Potter Rating

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What began as a skit in 2005 to entertain people lining up to buy Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in a London bookstore has become Potted Potter, a smash hit sell-out show all around the world. This modest five-minute skit grew to incorporate the first six books in a one-hour show in 2006. Creators Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner expanded their show in 2007 to include JK Rowling’s seventh book, which is where the magic lies in this current form.

It’s easy to see how Potted Potter has outlasted other parodies over the last 17 years. The formula is simple – make your audience laugh! And laugh we did for almost all of the 70-minute performance. There were audience members of all ages, from kids dressed up in their favourite Hogwarts house uniform as others donned witch’s pointy black hats to parents and the older generation attendees. At times, it was similar to a kid-friendly ‘clean’ stand-up comedy set, complete with a lot of audience participation and laughs. One part I shan’t spoil had the audience involved in a group game.

The script was deceptively clever, delivered in a rapid conversation between the two characters, Brendan and Scott. Despite the fast narration, there were no fumbles or tripping over the quick-witted lines. Paired with comedic physicality and perfect timing, the character’s expressions sometimes gave away their surprise when interacting, hinting at some smart stage improvisation. This appeared to keep the script fresh and was delivered so well that it was hard to tell whether it was improv or really good acting. Either way, it worked. They cleverly wove in lines that were particularly Australian too, at one time referring to the ‘bin chicken’, which made everyone laugh.

The set design by Simon Scullion was purposely basic, which didn’t place them at Hogwarts; rather, it added to the charm of a parody. The same was true for the costumes and props used. It was like Turner and Clarkson raided their dress-up and toy box at home and used what they had, such as a stuffed snake and various wigs. Rather than detract from the performance, they added a comfortable charm and a good spice of fun to the Potted Potter experience.

Composer Phil Innes created an air of Harry Potter expectation as the audience was being seated. The music as each book tale begins is cute in the repetition.

The performance also featured some magic, as expected from a book about this topic, as well as a hilarious musical duet complete with a dance break between the two characters to close the show. One of my favourite lines delivered by a ridiculously dressed character was, ” Look it up in the book of cool.”

This quirky performance of Potted Potter will appeal to people of all ages if you expect a lighthearted and quick tour through the seven books’ plot points.

Do you need to have read all seven books to enjoy this performance? No, not at all. It certainly referred to certain things that people who love the Harry Potter series would quickly understand; however, those who hadn’t read all the books gained an understanding of what was going on easily. The characters were all there, in fine form, represented by the two actors.

Potter Potter An Unauthorised Harry Experience is playing at The Seymour Centre, Sydney, from 12 – 21 April and will tour Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth throughout May.

This review also appears on It’s On The House. Check out more reviews at Whats The Show to see what else is on in your town.

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