Written by Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner
Directed by Daniel Clarkson
Centrepoint Theatre until March 14
Reviewed by Damian Thorne
Through six degrees of separation the writers of Potted Potter and I used to do the same job at Madame Tussauds.
Rather than the chamber of secrets, we all worked in the chamber of horrors – buried in the dungeon of the London tourist attraction playing serial killers, lurching around in the dark scaring unsuspecting visitors. Ironically the boys went on to huge success and I find myself reviewing their most successful project.
Potted Potter started as a 10-minute skit for a private party of posh kids at a Waterstones bookstore. It turns out that one of the posh kid's parents was a producer for iconic BBC show Blue Peter and they asked writers Dan and Jefferson to act out 10-minute versions of children's books on the show. They then elongated the Potter skit to the current 70 minutes and Potted Potter premiered back at our workplace in the Tussauds Planetarium.
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Tonight is my first time seeing it and, as a Potter dunce, this whirlwind of economic storytelling is perfect for me. All seven Potter books in 70 minutes. Anybody who knows me can testify I am a huge fan of economy, loving a good 90-minute movie, and I'm famous for getting straight down to business. As does Potted Potter.
I am already warm thanks to one of the show's stars, Tama Jarman, giving us a generous welcome prior to kick off. Generous is a great way to describe Jarman, and his co-star Adam Brown, giving so much of themselves during the show's duration that if it were promoted as a fitness video I'm sure another lucrative revenue stream would open up.
J.K. Rowling was once turned away from a performance of Potted Potter for arriving late and copping the only usher in the world who didn't recognise her.
What she missed was a whirling dervish of a show which bullet points her books, making sure to leave in the bits of important canon – such as the fearsome dragon we are promised in book four; the Warthog Express; the Nimbus 2000 Dyson vacuum cleaner; the songs we forgot about from Les Miserables, Annie and Wicked; and the audience-involving Quidditch match – could somebody please tell me which hoop to aim for!
It is terrific fun, and while the smaller adults loved it, one hollering "Is that supposed to be a monster" as the shrouded set was uncovered, there is plenty of adult humour as well, with discussion of a broomstick fetish; accidental inclusion of novels by E.L. James; and John Banks related zingers.
The dynamic duo on stage joke about this being the death of theatre, alluding to making it up as they go along, whereas in reality a gig like this fails without slick performances and a very nuanced script.
With Centrepoint scoring a coup like Potted Potter theatre doesn't die like some guy called Voldemort. It lives and gets to kiss Ginny Weasley. Potted Potter continues during Covid-19 level 2 – just go, I promise the folk at Centrepoint will keep you safe.