By Ed Sum (The Vintage Tempest)
I’m no stranger to the ‘reduced’ format when stage performers decide to condense a very well-known work from its voluminous size down to a few minutes. The final result is often hilarious and you do not need to attempt to read the book afterwards! Take, for example, the many works of William Shakespeare (which the Reduced Shakespeare Company is famous for) or Star Wars (One Man Star Wars). There’re other works too, and when I heard about Potted Potter, I had to be there and drag James Shaw along. He saw the movies, but never read the books. Yes, shame on him!
Interestingly enough this show has a James Percy as the straight-laced half of the comedic duo (he plays Harry throughout the show) who knows the material and Joseph Maudsley making himself appear like he did not know the books. Maudsley was kinetic on stage and cross-dressed. Can you imagine him as Cho Chang? For the strong male personalities, he played Hagrid like a Scotsman. To hear him claim that he had not finished reading the saga made the sitcom all the more hilarious because what’s on stage mirrored the friendship I have with my buddy. Though I don’t slap James around, he does get well-deserved noogies. In order to know how to play out some scenes, Joseph was required to know the final book by the end of the show. I bet my buddy felt a little lost.
The way Maudsley and Percy have a go at each other as themselves or as Harry vs Voldemort is hilarious, classic comedic duo (like Laurel and Hardy) type stuff, and it only has me thinking they need their own YouTube video channel to expose their style of comedy to the world. To note: the line-up may change depending on the tour. Back in 2014, Ben Stratton played the opposite.
Though James says a BBC program is better, the Internet is the future. Of course, while I stay current, my buddy is stuck in the past. Their repartee is masterful and this show is one I will go see time and time again, (If I only had a time-turner, I would want to repeat the fantastic day I had). Hopefully, next time, should the Quaffle ball they toss onto the stage will land near me. A safe version of Quidditch was played inside the McPherson Playhouse and I was so entrenched into the show where I wanted to jump from my seat and score one for the team! Two hoops were mounted by the audience seating area and I knew they were more than just set decorations!
Should Potted Potter come to a venue near you, I highly recommend going! I was in stitches when they referenced recent trends in pop culture. From saying Twilight should be burned to making a nod to Pokémon GO, I was fully nerding out. The night was wonderful with even a musical number. Sadly the spell that was cast had to end. At least I know I can cast again when this show comes back for another year (I hope it does).
4½ wands out of 5
Look for a Potted Potter production near you:
To learn more about this show, visit http://www.pottedpotter.com/