Review – Potted Potter: The Unauthorised Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff, Pleasance Courtyard Theatre, Edindurgh Fringe

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Try, if you please, to picture this improbable scenario.

A hot auditorium that accommodates (we would say seats – but more of that later) 750 people packed to the rafters 95% of the crowd is made up by families with children presumably tripping on “E” numbers, toddlers and babies that are just starting to crawl.

CBBC’s Dan and Jeff are the only thing that will keep them vaguely quiet by ripping through all seven Harry Potter books in 70 minutes. Yet in the midst of this sit the Whingers (who have heard of the books and the films) smiling beatifically and (almost) oblivious to the mayhem that surrounds them. Yes, quite impossible to imagine isn’t it?

Having emerged unexpectedly satisfied from the same team’s Potted Panto (much more familiar territory for us) the Whingers thought it would be only fair to dip their toes into the world of Harry Potter too. You don’t really need to know that much about J. K. Rowling’s creations but it helps.

The charm of Potted Potter is really all about the two likeable performers’ quirky madness, quick and extremely daft “costume”, wig and hat changes and a cursory gallop through the storylines. It’s not unlike us to lose the plot, but it for once it didn’t really matter.

Highlights included some audience participation, including a game of Quidditch (chuck a giant beach ball into the auditorium and the Whingers will always depart with gladdened dispositions, q.v. La Cage Aux Folles) and some extraordinarily clever and caustic ad-libbing from Dan when a shell-suited woman with reluctant hair, rather bizarrely elected not to trouble a seat with her derrière but entertain her (we presume) grandchild, a baby, in the aisle before letting it crawl onto the stage without seeking to deter or retrieve it. Very peculiar. It was our turn to take our hats off saluting Dan’s brilliantly restrained yet acerbic responses.

If the Whingers emerged slightly less whelmed than they did from Potted Panto it’s probably down to our lack of familiarity with the genre rather than the show.

But it’s still a creditably silly entertainment that seemed to down a treat with the fans.


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