Seven books in seventy minutes is no easy feat, but that is exactly what Potted Potter (the unauthorized Harry experience) promised; and delivered. It does this because Potted Potter is essentially a parody; poking fun at the Potter extravaganza and telling you the only story that matters, and making sure to include all the funny bits.
Brought to Singapore by actors Gary Trainor (who plays Harry) and Jesse Briton (who plays everyone else); the show is highly interactive, relies greatly on improv and ad-lib, and great for Potter fans and newbies alike.
Watch out for Briton, he plays a million characters using make-shift costumes and an outsider’s take. His goof-ups and antics keep the audience on their toes, and it is he who orchestrates the game of Quidditch inviting audience participation and making it the best part of the whole show. Trainor, the self-confessed Potter-obsessed fan narrates the play, and is funny in his frustration with Briton’s less than serious attitude, and with being stuck in a rut of playing only Harry.
The chemistry between the two actors is what makes the show tick.
We snagged an interview with Dan and Jeff, the creators and original performers of Potted Potter to get the lowdown on how it all began.
Some say that even the full-length feature films couldn't capture all that's good in the books, so all seven in seventy minutes is no easy feat. How did you do it?
Dan: It's not an easy task! I think the first version we wrote was closer to seven books in seven hours! Being such huge Potter fans ourselves we try and remain as loyal to the story as we can, but often 500 pages of important dialogue are cast aside in favour of a silly hat and a funny voice. But rest assured all the best bits are there, including the first ever live Quidditch game.
How many times did you guys watch the movies/read the books and what other research was involved?
Jeff: When we first came to the project Dan had read all the books that existed then once or twice and I not at all, though I had seen the films. I read all the books, as we were beginning to write the show, and we can now claim to have read all of them more than once, and I have read the last book four times now, I think!
Potted Potter does poke fun at the entire franchise, have you annoyed any Potter purists?
Dan: We are a loving parody. I see the show as more of homage to her work. While it can be very tongue in cheek, it's obvious to see that we are huge Potter fans ourselves and the purists seem to respect that. There was a Harry Potter fan site that commented that 'We told the jokes that the die-hard fans are all thinking.'
Has JK Rowling watched your show? Her thoughts?
Jeff: Some of her team have watched it, and there is a story that on our very last show in our first Edinburgh run (2006), that she tried to see it, but was turned away as we were sold out! That was one apologetic box-office girl, when she was told who she had just turned away.
Any parts of the books you have had to leave out of the show and wish you hadn't?
Dan: There are a few characters we had to leave out that I was sad to see go, mainly because I wanted the chance to play them! With Jeff playing Harry and me playing everyone else I'm living the actors dream, playing everyone from Hermione to Voldemort, from Snape to Dumbeldore who could ask for more in their career!
There is a lot of improv and ad-lib involved, have you guys ever got your facts wrong on-stage?
Jeff: Dan once accidentally called Buckbeak 'Bucklebeak' in a show. Three distinct separate voices from the dark corrected him immediately! Since then, we haven't dared get anything wrong. If we're not 100% sure, we don't say it!