Review: Potted Potter: The Unauthorised Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff – Seymour Centre (NSW)

Written and created by Daniel Clarkson & Jefferson Turner, directed by Richard Hurst.

Abridged versions of world-famous texts crammed into a shortened run-time is not an entirely new concept. Texts such as William Shakespeare’s have been among those to receive this abridged treatment and Potted Potter joins the ranks of the comically abridged plays category. Created by Olivier-Award nominated actors Daniel Clarkson and Jeff Turner, Potted Potter: The Unauthorised Harry Experience takes us muggles on a whirlwind ride through all seven of the Harry Potter books in the space of just 70 minutes. With promises of a soaring, fire-breathing dragons, some of the 100+ characters from the books and a deep dive into the plot of the Boy Who Lived, Potted Potter brings laughs for muggles of all ages.

The premise of the play itself is simplistic enough, two actors, Adam (Adam Brown) and Tama (Tama Jarman) have been tasked with performing all seven of the Harry Potter books for those who are fans, and those completely new to the Wizarding World. Whilst Adam’s sights are set on having a flying Ford Anglia, an array of the finest actors from NIDA, and Warner Brothers level quality sets, Tama’s are very much off with the Cornish pixies.

With most of the set covered in cloth at the beginning of the show, the audience’s anticipation is built to guess what is underneath them. Could it be the Hogwarts Express? Harry’s cupboard under the stairs? Dumbledore’s office? A model of Hogwarts itself? Director Richard Hurst quickly constructs the parody around the production itself as the set is revealed to be an array of awkward pieces that either have been spray painted with what they are meant to be or taken out of the entirely wrong series itself – We’ll leave you to guess what land a wardrobe could be referencing.

Brown and Jarman’s giddy, child-like glee when performing onstage is enough to bring the sometimes stale script to magical life. Brown’s fan-driven goal is to bring the Wizarding World to the audience, led by his over-inflated claim to be the world’s biggest Potter fan. Jarman’s role is that of the fool, the larrakin, we can always rely on him to somehow turn Adam’s plan inside out and into comedic territory. Whereas Adam is representative of the Potter fans, Tama is those of us who know of Potter but have never taken the time to watch nor read it!

The two actors bounce off each other in moments of purely improvised mockery, which mostly works, but often distracts from the flow of the show. With pop culture references thrown in wherever possible, the two work to bring laughs to the variety of ages that Potter reaches out to. Whether it be a Jacinda Arden appraisal, or a Pauline Hanson defamation, it’s clear that the two are working to bring relevance to the material.

What other show can have an entire audience on their feet bobbing up and down as they pretend to ride on a flying broomstick for a game of Quidditch?

The show itself may not be your regular night out viewing, and is specifically targeted at a magic-driven crowd. If you prefer your Potter with more serious flavour, then perhaps The Cursed Child is for you. However, if you’re a young Potter fan at heart, then Potted Potter may just be the show to satiate your Harry-shaped appetite these school holidays.

Potted Potter is the perfect holiday treat for the little wizards or witches at home. The younger audience in the crowd were joyously captivated by the slapstick comedy on stage and more than ready to break the fourth wall with pantomime-like “behind you” shouts.

Despite the first Harry Potter book being released in 1997 and the first film in 2001, it’s clear that the story of the Boy Who Lived still holds life in fans’ hearts. What other show can have an entire audience on their feet bobbing up and down as they pretend to ride on a flying broomstick for a game of Quidditch?

Reviewer Rating:

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Potted Potter: The Unauthorised Harry Experience is playing at the Seymour Centre in Sydney until the 4th July before moving to the Theatre Centre in Canberra, Festival Centre in Adelaide, QPAC in Brisbane and State Theatre Centre in Perth. See the website for full details and tickets.

Creative Team
Writers Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner
Director Richard Hurst
Set and Costume Designer Simon Scullion
Lighting Designer Tim Mascall
Music Phil Innes

About the author
Justin is an actor, writer, teacher and European tour guide. Justin has developed his writing for publishers such as Theatre People and ArtsHub. His past theatre credits include directing Stiles and Drew’s Soho Cinders, the ‘brave’ Sir Robin in Spamalot for Arcadians Theatre and the French Taunter/Tim in Spamalot for Springers UK, and his debut role as Muldoon in Jurassic: That is One Big Pile of Musical. As the years have gone by, Justin has taken a great interest in swallowing as much theatre as he can and bringing it to the masses through the establishment of Theatre Thoughts.

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