MUGGLES around the world have had withdrawal symptoms since the last book in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series in 2007, and the final film in the franchise released last year. But to cash in on all things Potter, two savvy Brits have devised a parody stage show around the storied boy wizard.
On at the main theatre at Montecasino until January 6, Potted Potter is precisely that: all seven books crammed into 70 minutes. Well, sort of. Here, the twists and turns of plot and character are secondary (if not completely irrelevant) to the horseplay and high jinks on stage, making for a gloriously goofy entertainment diversion.
The concept has its origins in a five-minute street show created by Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner in 2005 to entertain fans queuing to snap up the sixth book in the Harry Potter saga. It has since morphed into a fully-fledged stage piece, picking up a 2012 Olivier Awards nomination for best entertainment and family show along the way.
Potter purists be warned: this is by no means an authorised homage to the hallowed H trinity of Harry, Hermione, Hogwarts and everything in between. Concentrating more on a rip-roaring style of performance than on substance and nuance, it tears into the series with gleeful gusto.
It’s not directed at adult fans who take their Potterology seriously — the show has children and teenagers squarely in its cross hairs, although the big people accompanying them may find themselves succumbing to the daffy doings too.
No attempt is made to be respectful to the fantasy world that Rowling crafted with such time and care; this is an unabashedly low-budget, tongue-in-cheek rip-off of the Harry Potter craze — yet the laughs are anything but cut-price.
Actors Jesse Briton and Gary Trainor plunge into all things Potter with energy, enthusiasm and a hefty helping of physical comedy. Theirs is a thrift-shop world far removed from the multimillion-dollar special-effects universe magicked up in the movies: the philosopher’s stone is a brick, the Weasleys’ Ford Anglia is a dinky car, the fearsome fire-breathing dragon is a plush toy and there’s a proliferation of dodgy wigs.
The performers have a ball trying to summarise each book, occasionally mashing up the chronology and improvising to keep the interest levels high. For most young patrons, the highlight will be the hodgepodge game of Quidditch between two halves of the audience.
It’s kooky fun, and although the proliferation of over-the-top antics can get irksome to the more mature after a while, it’s mitigated by such priceless quips as: "You can’t be serious." "No, Sirius is dead. I’m Dumbledore!"
At one stage, the actors josh: "We can all agree: the victim is theatre," clearly aware that this is not highbrow fare — but if this uproarious experience leaves children spellbound by the magic of live entertainment, that can’t be a bad thing.