Saturday 21 April 2018

Theatre Review: Potted Potter

Potted Potter at The Gaiety Theatre, Dublin

Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, the writers and performers of Potted Potter
Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, the writers and performers of Potted Potter

John McKeown

Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, the writers and performers of the show, work as the classic double act of straight man and fool.

The relatively diminutive Jeff is the one who takes the project of telling the story of all seven Harry Potter books deadly serious, while tall skinny Dan continually throws a spanner in the works.

A major spanner, and big part of the comedy, is the woeful lack of props and quality acting talent Dan was supposed to supply. The 'Terrifying Serpent' from The Chamber of Secrets is a snake-shaped draught-excluder, a house elf is a reject from The Muppet Show and the fire-breathing dragon from Book Four is a rubber hand-puppet.

Dan's ineptitude also means the pair have to play all the main characters themselves. Dan gets all the exciting roles, such as Dumbledore, Voldemort, Harry's evil nemesis, along with Harry's friends Weasley and Hermione.

Apart from a very static Harry, 'The Golden Snitch' is as exciting as it gets for Jeff, which involves a ridiculous costume which makes him look like "Bob The Builder on a night out." Which, apart from a line about Dumbledore, the "Mightiest Wizard In The World," going into teaching, is about the funniest line in the show.

There are running swipes at how awful other supernatural brands are, such as Twilight, along with a predictable quota of digs at celebrities, but most of the laughs are supplied by Dan's fooling, silly wigs and silly voices. Which works far more with the children than it does with the adults.

Two children are invited on stage to play 'the Seekers' charged with hunting the Golden Snitch, a ploy Dan and Jeff rely on rather too heavily to whip up laughs.

Like the 'Quidditch' game, it overstays its welcome, and, though the show is hardly the tightest, things get sloppy, though the kids seem to like it and the strings are pulled tight soon afterward.

Still, it's a lively and varied enough show, and though most of it's scripted it has a happily improvised feel. It's also refreshingly un-reverential, though there is one flesh-crawling puff about Rowling being "the greatest writer of her generation."

Jeff more than compensates for this later when he stops everything to complain how boring Harry is. "The only way he could be more boring was if he couldn't move and was invisible", which is exactly what happens in Book Six.

Of course both are card-carrying Potterphiles, but I wonder if this bit isn't why Rowling hasn't yet accepted the offer of a seat at one of their shows.

Irish Independent

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