Call me a muggle, but I never quite understood the Harry Potter craze. Recently, my 10-year-old and I started reading the first of seven books in the fantasy series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling and I admit that I’ve started to get sucked into the wizardly world, a tad late to the party. But reading the combined 4,175 pages of the entire series? I have my doubts that’s going to happen.
Luckily, improvisational actors and co-creators of Potted Potter, Jeff Turner (the short one) and Daniel Clarkson (the tall one), offer a way for audiences to consume all seven novels in a mere 70 minutes.
Wearing wigs, stuffed googly-eyed dragons, funny hats, silly accents, devil horns and a puppet snake, the comedians portray Draco, Ron, Harry, Hermione, Dumbledore, Snape, Sirius Black, Albus, He Who Must Not Be Named (Voldemort) and 360 other Potter characters. Mocking the low-budget set, the comedic duo entertains the audience ranging in ages with the fast-paced, witty banter. There’s even a moment when Clarkson indulges in a piece of chocolate cake practically out of thin air. Young audience members revel in the sheer chaos of the show, especially when Voldemort performs the disco classic “I Will Survive.”
During the unauthorized Harry Potter parody, (this production was first performed at Pleasance Theatre in London in October of 2006) the straight man Turner is the expert on all things Hogwartz-related. The goofier Clarkson convinces the audience that he hasn’t read the entire series and is faking his way through the show confusing The Chronicles of Narnia, Frozen and The Lord of the Rings with the Potter series.
The audience plays an impromptu game of Quidditch from their seats with half of the audience assigned to Team Slytherin and the rest assigned to Team Griffandore. A beach ball bounces across the theatre, while Clarkson teases the audience about its poor volleyball skills and Turner wears an unfortunate golden snitch costume.
In 2005, Turner and Clarkson were asked to create a five-minute street show recapping the first five Potter books for fans awaiting the release of the sixth book at a midnight release. Since then, Potted Potter expanded into an hour-long show that has played worldwide, including Mexico, Ireland, Australia, South America, the U.S., Dubai, Canada and Europe.
Potted Potter keeps the audience spellbound, and remains in Houston at The Hobby Center for the Performing Arts at Zilkha Hall until November 8 and then moves to Austin at the Stateside at the Paramount November 10th -29th.
By Autumn Rhea Carpenter
Photos courtesy Potted Potter