Review: Potted Potter

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Review: Potted Potter

Dan Clarkson and Jeff Turner play in Potted Potter, which will be showing at the Hobby Center until Nov. 8

Dan Clarkson and Jeff Turner play in Potted Potter, which will be showing at the Hobby Center until Nov. 8

Image courtesy of Potted Potter

Dan Clarkson and Jeff Turner play in Potted Potter, which will be showing at the Hobby Center until Nov. 8

Image courtesy of Potted Potter

Image courtesy of Potted Potter

Dan Clarkson and Jeff Turner play in Potted Potter, which will be showing at the Hobby Center until Nov. 8

Marialuisa Rincon, Staff Writer

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When I first heard about “Potted Potter” I wasn’t convinced. How could you possibly squeeze hundreds (thousands?) of pages of a huge, complicated story spread out over seven books into seventy minutes? I didn’t think it could be done — at least not well.

To have someone balance me out in case I liked it too much and didn’t have a bias when critiquing it; I enlisted my serious, no-nonsense, British boyfriend to accompany me to the Hobby Center’s Zilkha Hall.

Let’s be clear, neither of us are massive “Potterheads”. He’s read the books and moderately enjoyed them, as anyone would. I haven’t read a single one of the books, but after watching every film multiple times – thank you ABC Family’s Christmastime Potter marathons – and I wouldn’t exactly be lost on the canon.

It was literally the most fun I’ve ever had at the theater. I was impressed by the initial approach.

Dan Clarkson and Jeff Turner play in Potted Potter, which will be showing at the Hobby Center until Nov. 8

Image courtesy of Potted Potter
Dan Clarkson and Jeff Turner play in Potted Potter, which will be showing at the Hobby Center until Nov. 8

The set looked rather plain. It was three tall lumps, a desk and small bookshelf and what looked like a colorful cardboard train. How can you possibly portray a massive castle built in the Scottish mountains with that? Let alone other locations where key plot elements take place.

The performers Dan Clarkson came out to shake hands before the lights lowered and the show began.

Without giving too much away, I’ll say that to attend Potted Potter is sort of like if someone had turned your favorite movie into a summer camp — watching the actors perform almost as if it were just you, interacting with them — that is what great children’s theatre is made of.

Early on in the show I learned not take it literally at all. Every set piece functioned in a way you wouldn’t expect it to, effectively becoming part of the story itself. The subplot involving the two actors themselves became as hilarious as two grown men attempting to portray all 300-something characters in J.K. Rowling’s series.

The atmosphere was intimate. Clarkson and “Potter no. 1” Jeff Turner involved the whole audience several times in various capacities, of course, pulling the time-old trick of bringing two children onstage with them to be part of the story.

Spoiler alert here — at one point I looked over to see my boyfriend at the edge of his seat ready to have a chance at the beach ball that was making its way through the audience.

It’s hard to hold a room’s attention for 75 minutes without some sort of obligation or monetary compensation, but Clarkson and Turner did it. In fact, they did it without an elaborate set or decorations.

Their incredible onstage chemistry made you forget that what you were looking at. Basically, it amounted to stand up.

Still, if I were an alien and the only exposure to Harry Potter was Potted Potter, I wouldn’t feel like I was missing much — thanks to the power point presentation in book five. I appreciated how funny they made a series that can have some heavy content and even be a bit dull at times.

I definitely feel like I wasn’t watching a summary — I was watching an adaptation into something completely new and refreshing. Dan Clarkson himself says it best, “we are good at shortening other people’s work,” he laughs, “we are proud of that.”

Potted Potter will be at the Hobby Center until Nov. 8, with show dates Nov. 3-6 at 7pm; Saturday Nov. 7 and Sunday Nov. 8 at 2:30pm, 5pm and 7:30pm. Tickets start at about $50. For more info and for tickets, visit TheHobbyCenter.org

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