The potty humor of 'Potted Potter'

Two English comedians spoof seven Harry Potter books in seventy-five minutes. Photo: Courtesy Shakespeare Theater

WASHINGTON, September 15, 2013 – After selling 450 million Harry Potter books and raking in over $15 billion at the box office and through merchandise sales, it made a lot of sense for two street actors to dedicate their young lives to creating “The Unauthorized Harry Experience,” AKA “Potted Potter,” whose extended run has just concluded its brief Shakespeare Theater run.

Since 2006, Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner have traveled the world from Australia to Canada and now the U. S., performing their innovative improvisational comedy routine, which crams the seven novel Harry Potter series into a 75-minute marathon. Highlights of the show include a wizard and witch audience participation segment that ends with the losers getting hosed with water cannons. Also on tap: a couple of low budget videos that had the audience howling with laughter.

For the uninitiated, the success of the Harry Potter books and films spawned a cottage industry of mock street entertainers who performed live at the midnight madness release parties that preceded the sale of each new Potter book. The Potter phenomenon built to a frenzied pitch in 2005 when author J. K. Rowling announced that the final book in the series would be finished in 2006 and published in 2007.

Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner in Potted Potter. (Courtesy Shakespeare Theater)

And that’s when Dan and Jeff premiered their hour-long parody of the first six books at the Edinburgh Zoo in London. The original bits eventually evolved into the current madcap one act fire drill that includes several genuinely cheesy stage props. But, as Dan repeatedly warns the audience, “There is no CGI in this show.”

The performance culminated in a brilliantly spoofed Quidditch match – that rough, semi-contact game of pitting student wizard teams against one another on their flying brooms that that became a big favorite of Potter heads. In this show, our heroes employed the stage as a virtual pitch and put the drapes in service as a place to hang the elevated rings.


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What followed was a three-minute scoreless beach volleyball version of Quidditch right inside that prestigious house of classic drama in Washington, D.C., otherwise known as the Shakespeare Theatre’s Sidney Harman Hall. The organization managed to let its hair down at the end of a long hot summer to have some fun at its 451 seat Sidney Harman Hall in keeping with its arts education mission to teach and excite learners of all ages.

At the performance we attended, two pugnacious little girls from the audience ended the match by body slamming one of Jeff’s many over-the-top characters on center stage to the delight of the crowd.

The audience itself was the expected mix of mostly screaming pre-teen girls and their parents and Baby Booming grandparents who seemed to enjoy the performance as much as the kids, if not the audience participation segments.

Which brings me to our only mild PG observation. There were a few off-color potty humor jokes by Dan during the dragon segment toward the end of the show, featuring the dragon’s tongue and head tucked between Jeff’s legs. The drag queen send up seemed a little inappropriate for some of the younger members of the audience, who probably didn’t get it anyway.


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The real test of the show’s success was evidenced in the theatre lobby after the show as gaggles of Potter heads whipped out their smartphones after enduring an entire hour of electronic device deprivation and responded favorably to Dan’s suggestion to “friend us on Facebook and send us a Tweet”.

On a scale of one to five, this performance was an obvious five for the younger fans and a fun filled and respectable four for the Baby Boomer ticket buyers.

For ticket information on upcoming Shakespeare Theater events and performances, link to www.ShakespeareTheatre.org. To discover where Potted Potter might be appearing next, check out Facebook at Potted Potter and definitely Tweet @pottedpotter if you enjoy the show.

 


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Malcolm Lewis Barnes

As a credentialed professional photo journalist, Mr. Barnes writes for the SQUARE BUSINESS journal, served as the Business Editor and columnist for the Washington Informer, and the Community Development writer for The Common Denominator newspaper

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