Friday, 1 June 2018

Puffs, May 30, 2018 ***

Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic
Written by Matt Cox     
At The Alex, St. Kilda, now running until Aug 12, 2018 
Reviewer: Kate Herbert 
Stars: ***
Ryan-Hawke_Eva-Seymour_Keith-Brockett_Pic by Ben Fon
Review also published in Herald Sun Arts online and in print on Friday June 1, 2018. KH

If you’ve ever felt like a secondary character in someone else’s exciting life, you’ll identify with the Puffs’ relationship to a certain young, bespectacled wizard who has all the interesting and dangerous adventures.

However, unless you are thoroughly versed in the Harry Potter books and films, much of this parody by American playwright, Matt Cox, will be impenetrable silliness.

For seven years at this famous wizard school, that lightning-scarred kid is the focus of attention, while the Puffs – the least prestigious of four student Houses – carry on being ordinary, and hoping against hope they’ll come third in the House Cup.

Puffs features a hapless trio of geeks: Wayne, a cuddly, untalented Australian kid played goofily by Ryan Hawke; Megan, the rebellious ‘emo’ played by Eva Seymour; and Keith Brockett’s Oliver, the Maths genius who is embarrassingly remedial at wizardry.

Rob Mills
Cedric Diggory, played with oodles of charming niceness by Rob Mills, is the only successful Puff – and he dies before he can teach Wayne all about magic. (If you don’t already know Cedric or his fate, don’t see this play.)

A spirited ensemble plays the remaining, misfit Puffs, as well as other, familiar cameos, including Mills’ very funny parody of evil Lord Voldemort.

Kristin McCarthy Parker’s production, is a fast-moving, 115-minute (plus interval) pastiche that gallops through a zany synopsis of all seven Potter books, with story transitions being wrangled by an oily Narrator (Gareth Isaac).

For the Puffs, all the real Hogwarts action occurs off-stage, out of view, just before or after they arrive, although Harry makes fleeting, albeit heroic, appearances with inanimate versions of Ron and Hermione.

It’s like watching Tom Stoppard’s play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, in which two minor characters from Shakespeare’s Hamlet play games off-stage to fill the time.

Puffs look a lot like a university revue, but it will be ridiculous and familiar fun for those who immersed themselves in J.K. Rowling’s books from an early age.

by Kate Herbert
_Eva-Seymour_Keith-Brockett_Tammy-Weller_Matt-Whitty_Annabelle-Tudor_Rob-Mills_Daniel-Cosgrove_Zenya-Carmellotti_Ryan-Hawke_Olivia-Charalambous_Pic by Ben Fon

Wayne- Ryan Hawke
Oliver - Keith Brockett
Megan – Eva Seymour
Sally- Zenya Carmelloti
Susie - Olivia Charalambous
Narrator – Gareth Isaac
Cedric – Rob Mills
J. Finch -Daniel Cosgrove
Hannah _ Annabel Tudor
Leanne- Tammy Weller
Ernie – Matt Whitty
Lauren McKenna
David Todman

Produced by TEG [LIVE] with Tilted Windmills Theatricals, John Arthur Pinckard & David Carpenter
Written by Matt Cox,
Directed by Kristin McCarthy Parker
Production and costume design by Madeleine Bundy
Original lighting design by Herrick Goldman
Sound design by Matt Cox 
Original music by Brian Hoes

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