That British accents make everything better is no newsflash.
Add strobe lighting, smoke effects and an irreverent dash through all seven Harry Potter books to said accents, and things get downright brilliant.
Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and Jeff grew from a five-minute street sketch retelling the first five books that Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, one time Children’s BBC presenters turned two-man comedy team, created in 2005 to entertain Potter fans lined up for the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
From there, Dan and Jeff were give the ultimate challenge of condensing, or “potting,” more than 4,000 magical pages into 70 crazytown minutes, with only snark, a campy set, cheap wigs and children’s preschool-variety puppet props to help them tell the abbreviated story of the Boy Who Lived.
After the intro – the first part drags – is when things get good.
Legit theatre good.
Jeff plays the straight-laced Harry groupie with glasses to match, while Dan plays his thoroughly non-Pottered, deliberately doltish sidekick that doesn’t know his accio from his expelliarmus.
What’s more, Dan’s convinced bits from The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia figure into the wizarding tales, making his portrayals of Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Rubeus Hagrid, Severus Snape, Draco Malfoy, Sirius Black, Mad-Eye Moody, Albus Dumbledore, Dobby the House Elf, Nagini, Death Eaters, and He Who Must Not Be Named – among others – even more hilarious.
Poking fun at everyone from Muggles to Masters while showing off mad skills in proper improv ensures the punchlines are always fresh, especially since a lot of the gags incorporate pop culture and throwbacks – think Twilight and Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” – and change each night depending on audience feedback. Even Jeff has trouble keeping a straight face with the off-the-cuff shenanigans Dan pulls.
I laughed so hard I cried. And actually slapped my knees. And someone else’s knees.
The all-audience Quidditch match – complete with blow-up globe turned Quaffle – is just one highlight among many, especially since Jeff seemingly channels Bob the Builder and a drag queen to play a Golden Snitch all dressed up in kitchen gloves, a ridiculous hoop dress, a hard hat and unitard that doesn’t leave much to the imagination. We were rolling when a young participant from the audience turned seeker kneecapped him, and basically demonstrated the difference between football and soccer.
When you go, consider stopping all liquids before noon.
Potted Potter’s tour at The Broadway Playhouse is scheduled for Nov. 19, 2012 – Dec. 23, 2012, and has already been extended with performances at The Harris Theater scheduled for Dec. 26, 2012 – Jan. 6, 2013. And, while the show is intended for ages six to Dumbledore, ages 10 and up is a better representation.
Disclosure: I attended the Midwest premiere of Potted Potter at the invitation of Broadway in Chicago. All opinions and ideas as they relate to classic wizarding geekery are my own. Check out DGOE’s full disclosure policy here.