A Playful Parody – Potted Potter Returns to The Seymour Centre

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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Venus and Adonis – a Play Within a Play of the Sonnet

Venus and Adonis

Venus and Adonis was filled with such strong performances; it came as no surprise to learn that the cast from Sport for Jove Theatre Company had previously been involved in the world of Shakespeare’s plays. Their delivery of various sonnets scattered throughout Venus and Adonis showcased their skills of navigating and steering the linguistics in a way that enthralled the audience.

I was particularly impressed with Anthony Gooley’s portrayal of William Shakespeare and how he coincided with the creation of sonnets in his mind by performing them aloud as the words appeared on the wall behind him as he spoke. This was a wonderfully original piece of visual theatre.

Venus and Adonis was written and directed by award-winner Damien Ryan, who has directed over 40 productions with Sport for Jove Theatre. I was at the opening night world premiere at The Seymour Centre for the play three years after the feature film of the same name was released in 2020. Many of the cast reprised their roles for this live performance.

Venus and Adonis

It is a bold story of the woman rival to Shakespeare, his secrets, intertwining his wife Agnes Hathaway (Bernadette Ryan) and a personal family tragedy into an engrossing stage production. Bernadette garnered my sympathy as Will’s wife and put in a powerful performance with lines that cut.

The play begins dramatically, introducing us to William Shakespeare and his mistress, Aemilia Lanyer, played by Adele Querol, who also performs the role of Venus. Adele’s solid performance as both Aemilia and Venus stood out as both characters were strong women, with Aemilia (Millie) having a voice essential to the play’s theme.

Damien Ryan brought Millie into the story as a talented poetess and stage actor during the late 1500s when women were not as valued as men and not allowed to perform on stage or be published. (Aemilia Lanyer was the first Englishwoman poet to publish a volume of original verse in 1611).

Adele brought depth when she was portraying Aemelia, who played Venus in a private performance for Queen Elizabeth I. Belinda Giblin’s version of Queen Elizabeth I was both commanding and regal, showcasing a distinct no-nonsense intelligence and sharp humour, especially toward the second half of the play.

Alongside Venus in this play for the Queen was Adonis, performed by Jerome Meyer. In the sonnet, this character was ‘hunt obsessed’ and fairly bland but was brought to life colourfully as Jerome’s portrayal of Nathaniel (Nate) Field, who took on the challenge of playing a male. Nate was previously only performing female roles.

The supporting cast in the ‘play within a play’ was outstanding, with all cast members eliciting laughs consistently. The production and careful costume design by Bernadette Ryan firmly placed us in the Tudor period.

The stage was cleverly lit, with lighting designer Sophie Parker using mirrors and shadows to create atmosphere throughout the play. This was particularly poignant during an emotional scene with Hamnet Shakespeare, played by Liv Rey Laaksonen.

The use of music, composed by Jay Cameron and played whilst the characters spoke, provided the feel of a dramatic cinematic layer.

Venus and Adonis is an original stage production that I recommend for both Shakespeare fans and those who aren’t very keen on sonnets – who knows, after seeing this play, you may find yourself falling in love with the beauty of poetry.

Venus and Adonis is playing in the Reginald Theatre at The Seymour Centre, on the corner of City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale, between 29 September – 21 October 2023.

Duration: 165 minutes (including interval)


  • Full $54
  • Concession (Pensioner, Veteran, Full-time Student, Senior) $42
  • Under 35/ Groups of 8+ $39

This review also appears on It’s On The House.

Venus and Adonis
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Clever, Creative and Eerie – The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw, written and directed by Tooth and Sinew’s Richard Hilliar (after Henry James) was a very clever and creative production.

An eerie atmosphere was established, from the moment the audience walked into the theatre through the mist to their seats. The preshow orchestral interlude, composed by sound designer Chrysoulla Markoulli purposefully used amplification and dynamics to capture my attention and left me with an unsettled feeling.

Whilst waiting for the show to begin, I got a subtle hint of what was to come by seeing the addition of something strange growing down from the ceiling onto the walls, it was creepy. These preshow elements caught all my senses to ensure a mysterious introduction to The Turn of the Screw.

The play was an adaptation of a well-known novella by Henry James and classified as a psychological thriller. A young governess is hired to supervise and take care of two children by their Uncle and is sent to live at an isolated property in the English countryside, joining the mansion’s housekeeper Mrs Grose.

It is here in the house where the governess experiences something unsettling, and the audience is first introduced to the idea that all may not be what it seems within this family and indeed, within the house itself and the surrounding grounds.

As the story progressed, so did the suspense. The underlying tension continued to mount as strange things involving the children occurred and we are left to question if the Governess, in her attempt to protect the children, is a reliable narrator.  There were some spine-chilling supernatural moments throughout the story, complemented by the lighting, sound and acting that made me shiver!

There was an effective use of costumes, set design and props to clearly define the era without explicitly telling the audience, in the late 1800’s. The colour palette of the set and costumes added to the authenticity and the mood.

All five cast members in the ensemble successfully pulled the audience directly into the show, with in depth believable performances. Each character had their own back story to unravel, and they did this superbly!

The Turn of the Screw was approximately 2 hours with a 20 minute interval.

Tickets are now on sale and is showing at The Seymour Centre from 21 July – 12 August 2023.

ADDRESS: The Seymour Centre, Corner City Rd and Cleveland St, Chippendale

TIMES: Wednesdays to Fridays 7:30pm; Saturdays 1:30pm & 7:30pm

BOOKINGS: https://www.seymourcentre.com/event/the-turn-of-the-screw/

or (02) 9061 5344

TICKETS: Full $49 / Seniors, Groups 8+ $39 / Concession, Under 35s $35

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The Messy Truth of Reality – Consent

What I was expecting: A courtroom drama about a rape case, and the effect it has on the lawyers who are trying the case. A play that was going to be uncomfortable and confronting, but presented an important discussion into the way we think about “consent”.

What was presented: A dark comedy that looks at the breakdown of a housewife’s relationship with her husband. It was a deep and complex interrogation of the concept of truth, perspective and fidelity that had me laughing with and relating to the characters.

Although the play does follow a rape case, the case and the personal life of the barristers are quite disconnected. My two initial thoughts of how the performance would run were completely off; the barrister does not fall apart feeling guilty about getting a rapist off, nor does the play end with a guilty verdict that sets the world right again.

Instead, Consent looks at how being “technically right” through legal reasoning can work to ignore and deny the messy truth of reality. The audience is presented with everyone’s side of the story and refreshingly isn’t forced to agree with any one character’s perspective. Each is right. Each is wrong. Each is deeply flawed. Everything is thrown up in the air and allowed to settle with the audience wherever it falls.

The rape case in this performance is presented almost as a play within a play. It is used as a way to emphasise the unflinching and unmerciful reasoning of the law and the lawyers that use its logic. The lawyers hold all of the control, yet the victim Gail (performed in this production by Jessica Belle) resists their version of the truth. She refuses to become an actor in their play and demands to be heard.

In this production, the first act is performed entirely downstage, and a partition was placed in the middle of the stage and used as a “backstage” for the actors. However, lighting effects allowed the partition to become see-through at times, providing an eerie, foreboding, and ever-present reminder of the darker themes of the play.

The partition changes at the end of the first act, where Jessica Belle’s Gail tears it asunder. It’s a powerful choice of staging as Gail literally breaks that fourth wall down to get her truth across. With the partition broken, it’s as if all of the complex issues and emotional chaos that were so intensely avoided in this first act are allowed to flood in. And like a tsunami they do.

Cue act two. Every single actor came alive in this second act, revelling in their characters’ disturbed emotional states. In particular, Kitty (played by Anna Samson) became a woman unhinged. Statement costume pieces and strong sound design emphasised the power shift within the play, and Anna Samson skillfully portrayed the transformation from a doting housewife to a woman on a mission.

Another standout performance was delivered by Nic English in his portrayal of Edward. Whether he was cross-examining a rape victim, having a verbal spat with his wife, or cuddling a soft toy whilst crying like a small child, Nic English was an absolute pleasure to watch.

Outhouse Theatre Co‘s production of Consent tackles its heavy and dark themes seriously, whilst also making the audience laugh out loud as they do. The actors combined perfect line deliverance and expert timing amidst the thoughtful stagecraft making the production come together seamlessly.

This play is not as dark as the promotions and publicity might make you think, and I hope that anyone who has the opportunity to see it does. It was a thoroughly enjoyable performance from a very talented cast.

Consent runs for three more weeks Wednesday through to Saturday until the 24th of June.

This review also appears in On The House.

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