Potted Potter – The Unauthorized Harry Experience at the Lansburgh Theatre

Jordan Wright
June 7, 2015
Special to The Alexandria Times

Dan & Jeff - Photos courtesy of Potted Potter

Dan & Jeff – Photos courtesy of Potted Potter

Harry Potter fans went wild last night at Potted Potter – The Unauthorized Harry Experience – A Parody by Dan and JeffDaniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, the two writers slash performers in the show, raced through seven Potter books in 75 minutes proving that sidelines and details hardly matter when action is what kids crave.  All in all they roasted, toasted and pilloried dozens of characters out of the 300 in J. K. Rowling’s World of Harry Potter to the roars of kids and grownups captivated by the series and its subsequent films.

The production is all very bare bones with stuffed animals subbing for dragons including a plush snake, pressed into service to act as Professor Snape, Master of Potions.  As Dan likes to remind the audience, “There is no CGI in this show.” And no animatronics either.

There is even less in the way of scenery.  A fake coffin, a wardrobe and a tropical travel poster compose the set that frames this duo of comic madmen.  A brief appearance by two stuffed animals on a skateboard and a wooden choo-choo train that takes the place of the Kings Cross Station underground train of the Hogwart’s Express, are a few of the makeshift props.

Dumbledore - Photos courtesy of Potted Potte

Dumbledore – Photos courtesy of Potted Potte

Wigs and sorcerers’ hats telegraph the rapid morphing of characters as Dan and Jeff attempt to cover all the critical action from Voldemort and Rubeus Hagrid to Dumbledore and Mad-Eye Moody.  Potter pals, Ron Weasley, appears in an orange afro wig and is referred to as the “Ginger Ninja”; and Hermione, depicted by Dan in Teutonic-inspired blond braids, are mere bit players in this madcap spoof.

Jeff  appears to be the more reasonable of the two, often asking the attention-challenged Dan to beef up the plot’s interpretations with more sophisticated dramatic effects – – to which Dan replies, “I think we can all agree.  The victim is the theatre.”  An inside joke that escapes the young audience, as do references to Putin, Miley Cyrus, Georgetown Cupcake and Washington politics, which the adults gleefully relish.

Two fluffy Warthogs - Photos courtesy of Potted Potter

Two fluffy Warthogs – Photos courtesy of Potted Potter

As you can well imagine, props are central to ascertaining the various characters and Dan and Jeff switch them out with increasing mayhem while dashing behind the wardrobe and psyching up the crowd with hopes of playing quidditch.  The broomstick game, well known to fans, eventually comes to pass, albeit without brooms, along with an audience participation game of catch the Golden Snitch, endearingly enacted by two child volunteers who are over the moon to have parts in the show.

More silly and outlandish portrayals and spoofs are cleverly employed as the players zip through all seven books, from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

British Director Richard Hurst keeps the action in high gear as does Composer Phil Innes, who lends a touch of impending doom to the dramatic bits.

Recommended for all ages that value absurdity and ridiculousness.

Through June 21st at the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Lansburgh Theatre 450 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004.  For tickets and information contact the box office at 202 547-1122 or visit www.ShakespeareTheatre.org.