Potted Potter – The Unauthorised Harry Experience, an Edinburgh Festival favourite full of chaotic family fun, returns to the West End at the Trafalgar Studio 2 this Christmas. Charlotte Marshall was in the very rowdy and hyperactive first night audience.
The premise of Potted Potter is to cover the entire Harry Potter story, including all seven books and over 300 characters, in just 70 minutes. A pretty ambitious aim when there are just two of you, one of whom hasn’t even bothered to do the research and has blown the whole prop budget on the fire-breathing dragon in book four.
Comic duo Dan and Jeff are keen to point out right from the start that the show is a parody – “that should keep her lawyers off our backs for an hour” – but audiences don’t come to their show for accuracy it’s the crazy, silliness on stage and the love-hate relationship between the two men who bear an uncanny resemblance to Peep Show’s Mark and Jeremy.
Jeff is the brains behind the operation. Sensible and well-read (at least where J K Rowling is concerned) he is determined to give the audience the most comprehensive and exciting experience he can. As well as taking the lead role in the story, obviously. Dan, however, is more excitable and slightly less informed. Having been given the responsibility of creating the set, Jeff’s ideas of an elaborate reconstruction of Hogwarts and a full-sized flying Ford Anglia are replaced by two warthogs on a skateboard and a plastic Scooby Doo van. The Forbidden Forest becomes a Santa’s grotto and Lord Voldemort is transformed into a camp baddie in devil horns who no-one fancies.
A wardrobe on stage (the result of Jeff’s confusion with The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe) provides numerous hats and wigs allowing the pair to become everyone from Ron Weasley to Professor Lupin. Audience participation is encouraged, especially when an exciting game of Quidditch takes place, much to the delight of the children in the audience.
With the show ending on a rendition by Harry and Voldemort of “I Will Survive”, with such lines as “As long as I have seven souls, I know that I’ll survive”, this is not just a show for Harry Potter buffs, but anyone partial to a bit of chaotic, silly fun and family-friendly banter.