★★★★ Critics 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.
Time Out London