You don’t need to be a die-hard Harry Potter fan to enjoy the two-man comedy show Potted Potter. You simply need to sit back, relax and watch as two British actors, Ben Stratton and James Percy, retell all seven books of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter in only 70 minutes.
How do they do it? With the help of seemingly Dollar-Store-purchased props, wigs, sets, masks and a small toy broom usually seen in Filipino side market stalls.
The barebones set is a far cry from the packed and bursting-at-the-seams stories of the Harry Potter world. They also play the parts of several characters from the books--or at least Ben does.
Written, created and originally performed in 2005 by Dan Clarkson & Jeff Turner as a five-minute show for Harry Potter fans waiting for the release of the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince outside a London bookshop, Potted Potter has since evolved to become a 2012 Olivier Award nominee for Best Entertainment & Family Show. It has also toured Canada, Dubai, South Africa, the U.S., Hongkong and Singapore.
According to co-creator Dan Clarkson, the Philippines holds the record as the only country, besides the U.K., where Potted Potter has been staged for three consecutive years.
The show held its opening night this September 30 at the RCBC Carlos P Romulo Auditorium.
Being a U.K. production, the British references used in the show may go way over your head. But have no fear, the geeky humor will corner and assault you to laughter. Theatergoers can also expect a very brief and hilarious punchline referring to The Lord of the Rings.
As first time performers in front of a Manila crowd, Ben and James are impressive for their stamina, charisma and infectious energy. Their dynamic is also a hoot.
As “Harry,” James is the straight man to Ben’s fun silliness. (In case we forget, the name Harry is on James’s forehead in big, black, bold letters)
Ben plays the rest of the hundreds of characters in the book. His devilishly sexy and gay version of Voldemort is priceless.
During the retelling of Book 1, Ben slaps James’ face numerous times in reference to the characters Professor Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy, both of whom “hate” Harry. The audience later sees the part of James’ slapped face turn red and remained so until the telling of Book 4.
Later on, when Ben chooses teen players in the audience to play a game of Quidditch on stage, James is seen dressed as a Quidditch ball in gold-colored tights. The goal of the game is to capture the ball. During the opening night, two teens enthusiastically tackled James and pushed him down on the floor.
James half-seriously remarks that it is in Manila where he has experienced “the most violent” Quidditch game ever. He declares: “Apparently that is Quidditch in Manila.”
He also chides Ben for choosing teens and not six-year-old kids as players.
When Ben throws a glass of water on James’ face, the latter reveals it went straight up his nose. James then adds, “I love my job.” He also turns to the audience and jokingly announces, “You had to choose our opening night.”
Potted Potter’s good-natured jibe of the books, the characters, and the audience adds to its irresistible charm.
During the retelling of Book 6, Ben’s joke that didn’t elicit laughter from the audience prompted him to make candidly comment: “We really should have done more research.
“It’s a joke that doesn’t work in Manila.”
When Ben accidentally trips on stage, James laughs in sweet revenge and the audience laughs along with him.
After 70 minutes of Potted Potter, you’d wish it was a minute or two or more longer.
The show is fun and funny, the kind where you’re left with a smile on your face and your heart feeling a pound or two lighter. There is also a craving to watch it again, just in case you missed a detail from the book and/or if you want to see if there will be a new, fun and spontaneous line or scene that might magically pop up during the actors’ performance and their interaction with audiences.
Potted Potter will run until October 5 at the Carlos P. Romulo Auditorium, RCBC Plaza, Makati City. Tickets are available at Ticketworld (Tel. No. 891-9999) or Ticketworld Online.