Review: Potted Potter (Potted Productions)

Potted Potter at Toronto’s Panasonic Theatre offers laughs for fans and non-fans of all ages

Potted Potter is a goofy, fast-paced celebration of character acting – one actor plays Harry Potter, another plays the other 300 characters from J.K. Rowling’s imaginary world.

The story: a pair of Brit playwrights embark on the ambitious goal of performing all seven Harry Potter books in 70 minutes. There’s Jeff (Jefferson Turner), the straight man and Potter devotee that must overcome his dream of a high-quality production complete with fire-breathing dragons and full-blown Hogwarts sets. And then there’s Dan (Daniel Clarkson), who’s a lot less worried about accuracy: he hasn’t read the books.

You don’t have to be a Potter nerd to love this play. The friend I brought didn’t care a wick about the series – she hasn’t read the books and never bothered with the movies. But no matter, she laughed harder than I did.

Of course, there are plenty of rewards for Muggles that love Monty-Python-esque humour or wizardly trivia. There’s Dementor humour, ginger jokes, Rowling worship, jabs at the movies and a tear-jerking Dobby death scene. On opening night, audience members got their own pair of Potter glasses and a program shaped like a scroll (no owl deliveries, unfortunately).

This is a play that doesn’t bother to take itself seriously. The actors’ chemistry is hilarious, making room for improv and the occasional aside – after a British in-joke fell flat, Jeff deadpanned, “We should have done more research”. A lively Quidditch match between audience members got physical when lovely young woman plucked from the crowd at random proceeded to brutally tackle Jeff. I spoke to her afterward and found out she’s a former rugby player.

I particularly like how Dan reduced some major characters to one-liners or scowls (Snape: I’m bad…or am I?) The cherry on this production is the epically magical sing-off between the boy wizard and the One That Shall Not Be Named (“You said Voldemort!” “I said Voldemort!” “I said it again!” “Shut up!”).

Photo of audience loot by Dana Lacey

 

Details:

Potted Potter is playing at Panasonic Theatre (651 Yonge Street) until March 25, 2012
– Shows run Tuesday to Sunday at 7pm, with additional matinee performances on various days (check the full schedule).
– Ticket prices range from $30 – $100
– Tickets are available online, or through the box office at 416.872.1212

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