Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Potted Potter, Oct 16, 2012 ****

The Unauthorised Harry Experience
Written by Daniel Clarkson & Jefferson Turner
Comedy Theatre, Melbourne, Oct 16 to 21, 2012
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also published online for Herald Sun on Oct 18, 2012. KH. 
  Gary Trainor & Jesse Briton

POTTED POTTER IS A TOTALLY IRREVERENT AND STUPIDLY FUNNY PARODY of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books – all seven of them in 70 minutes.

There is no flashy set or lighting design, spectacular animatronics, elaborate costumes or massive cast because Rowling’s 300+ characters are whittled down to about twenty and are all played by two genuinely goofy, adorable actors, Jesse Briton and Gary Trainor.

Don’t expect stylishly accurate characterisations or lightning-fast physical transformations because this is cheesy, school play style acting that mercilessly ridicules the earnestness and complexity and sheer length and breadth of the Potter series.

Most gags arise from Jesse never having read the books and, therefore, creating wildly inaccurate characters: Ron Weasley is a rap-talking, housing estate kid, Voldemort has red devil’s horns, Snape has a shoddy, French accent, Hagrid wears an afro wig, and Hermione has plaits and a crusty baritone.

Jesse spent the entire budget on the flying dragon in book four, so the exasperated Gary, the serious Potter fan who plays Harry, is appalled as all his favourite scenes go down in flames and he becomes the butt of every gag.

You need to know and love the books to appreciate this show, and the audience of kids and parents roared at every crazy error of narrative and cheered as Gryffindor and Slytherin supporters in a riotous, on-stage Quidditch game.

Gary’s portrayal of the Quidditch golden snitch is hilarious, Jesse’s powerpoint presentation of the entire book three is inspired, the Tri-Wizard Cup is skilfully scaled down to trivial silliness, and the entire Deathly Hallows story is sung to the tune of I Will Survive.

I was anticipating a finely wrought, theatrical satire (think Charlie Ross’s One Man Lord of the Rings), but this charming duo and their mad romp of anti-art won me over and I laughed until my jaw ached.

By Kate Herbert

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