Potter wizardry casts chaotic spell

21 April 2022

Potted Potter is a completely silly attempt to condense the Harry Potter series into a 70-minute show, and junior reviewer Bethany Stopher is totally on board the Hogwarts Express for the hilarious ride.

Potted Potter, Potted Potter ·
Heath Ledger Theatre, 20 April 2022 ·
Junior review by Bethany Stopher, aged 15 ·

Potted Potter is a chaotic and hilarious rollercoaster, covering all seven magical books in the Harry Potter series in just 70 minutes. It appeals to the old and young, to the diehard Potter fan or just anyone who wants a good laugh, even if they are not familiar with the story. 

The show is written by Children BBC presenters Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner and directed by Richard Hurst. In the Australian tour Turner is also one of the two performers, and he and co-performer Joseph Maudsley are charismatic and compelling. They draw the audience in with their ridiculous antics and endearing energy; you can tell how much fun they’re having. 

Maudsley (Joe in the play) plays all the wizard and witch characters, excluding Harry, and is a crowd pleaser, practically bouncing off the walls, to the aggravation of his partner Jeff (played by Turner). He plays up to the audience, repeatedly asking to play quidditch, bragging about his dragon (which turns out to be amusingly underwhelming), and signalling for applause. 

Turner, on the other hand, plays a rather befuddled and grumpy character, which is equally as hilarious. In an especially enjoyable moment, he emerges from the wings, dressed in a lumpy and gaudy “golden snitch” costume, resulting in a snide “Bob the Builder” remark from his partner. Together, the duo are very interactive with the audience, even selecting one poor Hufflepuff fan for a bit of special treatment during a 3D game of quidditch. 

It is the show’s unapologetic silliness that makes it what it is. It’s all about the comedy rather than attention to detail in recreating the books. Set designer Simon Scullion makes that obvious from the start – the Forbidden Forest is represented by a few palm trees and the Hogwarts Express is a candy-coloured contraption that looks like something out of a Duplo set rather than an impressive steam train.

Nagini, Voldemort’s sinister sidekick, is a friendly looking python and Voldemort apparently has devil horns. These touches just make the whole thing more enjoyable. 

Lighting designer Tim Mascall and composer Phil Innes also add their own dramatic flair. The lights are wild and theatrical as Voldemort and Harry engage in a dance battle and again as they perform a cleverly altered rendition of Gloria Gaynor’s disco classic “I Will Survive”.

Although the show consists largely of childish humour (which seems to be massively enjoyed by the parents, I might add) there are more adult jokes including political comments and mature references. Jokes aside, some of the best parts of the performance are when the actors are funny without obviously meaning to be! Joe walks headfirst into a wardrobe, temporarily blinded by his death-eater mask. And when impersonating Dumbledore’s hysteria, which involves funny face glasses, he gets a bit overenthusiastic, and ends up with plastic eyeballs scattered on the floor. 

The 70 minutes go by in a flash. Who knew oversimplifying the Harry Potter saga could be so much fun? Although I haven’t read the books in years, the show brings me back to that special place that only magic can take us – in this case the magic of comedy. A little bit of silliness never hurt anybody.

Potted Potter continues until 24 April 2022.

Pictured top: Scott Hoatson as Harry and Joseph Maudsley as Dumbledore in an earlier version of ‘Potted Potter’.

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Junior Reviewer

At Seesaw we believe that shows designed for children should be reviewed by children. Our junior reviewers write an honest response, in their own words. Their contributions are a vital part of the arts playground.

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