Reviews

“The duo casts the perfect spell over the audience.”
The New York Times – Critics’ Picks

FOUR STARS“A fabulously funny parody.
Will tickle the funny bone of every age group.”

The London Daily Telegraph

FOUR STARS“Blissfully funny, a winner in every way.
This show is a crowd-pleaser.”

The London Guardian

FOUR STARS“Cleverly appeals to both ardent fans and parents.”
The London Times

FOUR STARS“Even the purest of Potter fans would find it hard to object. My Potter experts loved it.”
London Financial Times

FOUR STARS“Gloriously irreverent. A very lovable romp through Rowling’s back catalogue.”
Time Out London – Critics’ Choice

FOUR STARS“The single funniest thing I’ve seen in ages.
You’re gonna love this show.”

Toronto Star

“You could do no better than to see Potted Potter.”
Toronto Globe & Mail



2012 Tour Reviews
  • 5 June – The New York Times Critics’ Pick Review

    “With all the Harry Potter books and movies done, and no new material to pore over, where can a devoted Muggle get a fix? You could fly to Florida, to the Universal Studios Orlando theme park. Or over to Britain, where tours of the films’ sets, at Leavesden Studios outside London, have begun. Online, there’s always J. K. Rowling’s Pottermore Web site.

    Or you could make your way to the Little Shubert Theater, where the gloriously goofy “Potted Potter” is being staged. Billed as “the unauthorized Harry experience,” this parody makes the perfect claim for the Twitter age: all seven books — roughly 4,000 pages — in 70 minutes.

    “Potted Potter” is the antic creation of Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, better known in Britain as Dan and Jeff, onetime presenters on CBBC, the British Broadcasting Corporation’s children’s network. In the best two-man comedy tradition, Jeff, the shorter one, is the straight man, the expert on all things Harry; Dan, the taller one, is the one who’s faking it, confusing the series with “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”

    Using bad wigs and Silly String on a set so cheap it might have been furnished by Craigslist, Mr. Clarkson and Mr. Turner do indeed tell an abbreviated, ridiculous version of the Boy Who Lived. Mr. Turner plays Harry, though when he wears those signature glasses, he looks more like that pinball wizard, Elton John. Mr. Clarkson, channeling a caffeinated Robin Williams, plays everyone else, including, among others, Ron and Hermione; Draco Malfoy; Snape; the Weasleys; Sirius Black; Mad-Eye Moody; Dumbledore; and, of course, He Who Must Not Be Named.

    Dobby, the house elf, makes an appearance, as does Nagini, Voldemort’s snake; Death Eaters and — crucial to Mr. Clarkson, at least — the dragon from Book 4. A highlight is the game Quidditch played with audience participation. And a very golden Snitch.

    “Potted Potter” grew from a five-minute street sketch recapping the first five books that the two created in 2005 to entertain Potter fans lined up for the release of the sixth, “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” When they expanded it with runs in the West End in London and in Toronto, they no doubt took some cues from the popular “Compleat Works of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged)” by the Reduced Shakespeare Company.

    The flavor is Monty Python meets vaudeville, ragged and thrown together in a spirit similar to fan-created homages like Potter Puppet Pals and “A Very Potter Musical.” You don’t need to know all the plot twists and nuances of Hogwarts to enjoy the in-jokes, though clearly most of the delighted crowd does. (On the off chance you’re in the middle of the series, be warned: spoilers lurk throughout, though the original does not include a disco ball.)

    Besides, if you miss something, another laugh will be along shortly. Clearly Mr. Clarkson and Mr. Turner attended Professor Flitwick’s charms class, because the duo casts the perfect spell over the audience: Reductio ad absurdum.” – The New York Times

  • 14 February – “Even if you don’t know your wand from a hole in the ground, I guarantee you’ll go positively potty over Potted Potter. Muggle or master wizard, you’re going to love this show.” ★★★★ (out of four) Toronto Star

Reviews from previous tours

2011 Tour Reviews

  • 22 August – “The cleverest thing about this two-man parody (updated, book by book) is that it appeals both to the ardent fan as an in-joke, and to parents… Precision disguised as incompetence is a perennial form of comedy. These guys are good.” ★★★★ The Times
  • 26 July – “Its infectious pandemonium is sure to please. Truly magical.” ★★★★ The Public Reviews

Reviews from previous tours

The Guardian ★★★★

Sublimely potty and done with the lightest of touches, this daft two-man parody of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novels is a bliss fully funny 75 minutes for anyone with a passing acquaintance with the boy wizard and He Who Must Not Be Named. Like all really good parodies, Dan and Jeff’s “unauthorised Harry Experience” is both a send-up and a heartfelt homage. It also incorporates recent revelations, so that the outed Dumbledore becomes “the only wizard in the village”.

In fact, it is all terrific family entertainment, as performers and writers Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner “muggle” along with just the right mix of boyish exuberance and cack-handed charm. Dan, in particular, often seems a trifle confused between his Potter and his Lord of the Rings and Narnia adventures. Then there is his misunderstanding about the difference between Hogwarts and warthogs. And when he plays the Defence of the Dark Arts teacher, Lupin, the werewolf has inexplicably transmuted into an elephant. These mixups weigh heavily on self-appointed Harry Potter expert Jeff, all the more because Dan has used all the money set aside to employ 20 actors on the dragon in Book Four. The dragon, needless to say, turns out to be a severe disappointment.

At moments, there is a touch of the National Theatre of Brent in the prickly relationship between Dan and Jeff. This is also the only show in town in which the audience get to participate in a game of quidditch, even though Dan appears to think that a vacuum cleaner can be substituted for a Nimbus 2000 and Jeff has a trying time as the Golden Snitch. A winner in every way. Lyn Gardner

Sunday Express ★★★★

The deliberately daft but utterly delightful Potted Potter is an unauthorised attempt to condense all seven Harry Potter books into one hour’s stage time, and saves you an awful lot of reading. There’s sure to be an authorised stage version one day that will take the stories altogether more seriously, but they will be hard pressed to summon such genuine affection and wit – let alone get the audience to play a game of Quidditch with just a bouncing ball. Mark Shenton

Daily Telegraph

There was an alarming moment when my 14-year-old son and I entered the foyer of the Trafalgar Studios only to find the place bursting at the seams with tiny tots with ages ranging from five to eight.

I’d persuaded Edward to come to Potted Potter on the basis that this was going to be a devastating parody of JK Rowling’s books, and that it would be mocking, sophisticated and clever. In fact it, looked as though we were going to be in for the theatrical equivalent of Jackanory. Edward assumed that martyred look of the self-conscious teenager with an unreliable parent. Forty years earlier, I would have adopted an identical expression myself.

But, in fact, the show turns out to be a bit of a blast. The two performers Dan and Jeff are a classic double act, with Jefferson Turner playing the Ernie Wise role of the perennially hopeful yet permanently aggrieved straight man, while Daniel Clarkson adopts the Eric Morecambe persona of the dotty surrealist who knows exactly how to wind his partner up.

Initially, I found Dan’s wild-eyed, manic manner and constant shouting a touch fatiguing, but surprised myself by greatly warming to him as the show progressed.

What’s remarkable about Potted Potter is that it genuinely seems to appeal to audiences of all ages, as Dan and Jeff attempt to race through all seven Harry Potter books in just one hour.

After a slightly tedious opening, in which Jeff berates Dan for not securing the props, sets and actors he’d demanded, the duo get cracking on the books. Plump and amiable, Jeff plays the boy wizard, and Dan plays all the other roles, heroically undeterred by the fact that he seems to have only the most distant acquaintance with Rowling’s epic oeuvre.

The pair whip up an atmosphere of crazy delirium with glove-puppet monsters, enjoyably awful jokes, quick changes, silly accents and frenzied slapstick. And the audience participation proves riotous, especially in a frenzied game of Quidditch, in which poor Jeff finds himself absurdly dressed up as the golden snitch and the adults in the audience behave even worse than the kids when it comes to gaining possession of the Quaffle.

As someone who gave up on the Potter books (along with my wife and son) when faced with the dauntingly long fourth instalment, deciding that life was too short for quite so much turgid prose and repetitive plotting, the irreverence of this show comes as a blessed relief. And while adults can enjoy seeing JK Rowling’s disappointingly ponderous and po-faced fiction so gleefully sent up, the tinies are manifestly, and audibly, getting a real buzz out of the sheer anarchy of it all.

It will be a some time before I forget mild-mannered Jeff suddenly cracking and complaining about just how boring the character of Harry Potter actually is, even longer before the spectacle of Dan as Dumbledore, “the only wizard in the village”, fades from the memory as he sings the great gay anthem I Am What I Am. Listen out, too, for Voldemort’s version of the disco classic I Will Survive.

For those looking for an alternative to pantomime which will tickle the funny bone of every age group, this bonkers and blessedly brief show is just the ticket. Charles Spencer

Time Out ★★★★ Critic’s Choice

Things begin a little ominously for this fearless duo of reduced Rowling, writer-performers Jeff and Dan, who promise to deliver all seven Harry Potter books on stage, in just over an hour. Jeff is a Harry Potter expert/addict. Dan, however, is entirely ignorant of everything Hogwarts-related. Thus he has kitted out the stage with two fluffy warthogs, and a shabby wardrobe, through which he’s expecting all the characters to disappear to Narnia. And the audience is faced with the tiresome prospect of an hour of Jefferson Turner’s very straight man, whipping himself into a fury at the unfailing ineptitude of wacky odd-ball Daniel Clarkson.

But when Jeff picks up the first Potter instalment to boil down to five-minute size, dramatic matters take several turns for the better. Jeff is an overly enthused, bespectacled Harry, while Dan, a limitless supply of bad hats and dodgy plastic puppets to hand, plays everyone else, with increasingly anarchic, persuasive charm.

Their dealings with hecklers, like the treatment of the Potter series in general, is always cheekily rude, rather than snearingly mean, and it’s the buoyant geniality of the near impossible task at hand that renders it so endearing to the all-ages audience. That and the raucous game of quidditch, involving a blow-up globe, two large hoops, and a larger-than-life snitch that flies with the aid of flapping Marigold gloves. Voldemort’s refrain, ‘I Won’t Survive?’, marks a gloriously irreverent finale to a joyous, unarguably thin, but very lovable romp through Rowling’s back catalogue.

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