I was hemming and hawing over watching Potted Potter since the Manila run was first announced; there are so many theatre shows this year and it’s so hard to choose which ones to watch! Last Thursday, however, it was late afternoon when my cousin Dianne and I came across Ticketworld’s Last Minute Tickets promo and we decided, fingers crossed, to head straight to RCBC Plaza after work and take our chances that there were still some seats available.

As luck would have it, we two hard-to-please Potter fans (who have done crazy things in the name of Harry Potter, including but not limited to birthday parties for Harry Potter and Severus Snape and a (combined) growing collection of over 150 Harry Potter books in different languages), both having a bad week and in dire need of a lift, scored half-price orchestra tickets to Potted Potter on the spot!

Here’s my review, which first appeared on ABS-CBN News:

Dubbed “The Unauthorized Harry Potter Experience,” “Potted Potter” is a parody of the bestselling series by J.K. Rowling, taking on an impressive challenge: to pack all seven Harry Potter books in 70 minutes. Created by Dan Clarkson and Jeff Turner, the Olivier Award nominated “Potted Potter” has played to sold-out houses all over the world, including London, New York, Toronto, Edinburgh,Australia and New Zealand.

The two-man show of “Potted Potter” in Manila stars the touring cast, Gary Trainor and Jesse Briton, who keep the audience roaring with laughter as they make their way through the series. A show within a show, the two guys are putting up a theatre show about the Harry Potter series, with Trainor in charge of the content and Briton assigned to the props and special effects. Mishaps abound, leading to the two men playing all the parts themselves!

Trainor plays Harry Potter (most of the time), while Briton scrambles to play whatever character the scene requires, involving breathless costume changes, accents and voice pitches, and even mannerisms. They go through the books in chronological order, acting out a hilarious condensation of the events in each book, breaking out of Potter character whenever they have to work out their differences.

Easily one of the highlights of the show, the two men lead the audience in a spirited game of (what else?) Quidditch,the official wizarding sport. The sporting event involves Seekers chosen from the crowd, grueling competition between two houses (ours was classic Gryffindor vs Slytherin), and an outrageously violent quest for the Golden Snitch.

The dialogue is peppered with jokes that go beyond the Potterverse, as Trainor and Briton draw on references to Broadway musicals (Briton breaking out into “Defying Gravity” from “Wicked”), film (Briton’s Hagrid accent sounding like “Shrek,” a dig at the two-part “HP 7″), and other bestselling book series (“Narnia,” “Lord of the Rings,” “Twilight” and “Fifty Shades of Grey”). There is even a dash of local color, with Boracay making an appearance on set, and a candid reference to “The Phantom of the Opera” running on the other side of town. Each book is told in a different way, going from mere re-telling to an all-out variety show.

The spontaneity of the duo makes a delightful foil to the side-splitting dialogue. The two actors are prone to chortling upon successfully delivering an off-the-cuff joke, sometimes even reeling from the mirth, extending the humor for the audience. They are also quick to pick up on the audience’s response, making light of rare moments whenever a joke falls flat, and their self-deprecation rendering the audience in stitches.

As “purist” Trainor good-naturedly grumbles through the unorthodox spin their show is taking, and “noob” Briton discovers the magic of Harry Potter as they are putting on the show. “Potted Potter” effectively welcomes both types in the audience. Fans will relish the uproariously abbreviated canon and relive their favorite Potter moments, while those who have yet to read the books can count on the show’s promise of encapsulating the series in a little over an hour.

Totally unauthorized, outrageously funny, and altogether memorable, “Potted Potter” has the audience laughing long after the curtains fall.

***

Dianne and I thoroughly enjoyed the show; our cheeks and jaws hurt from laughing so hard in seventy minutes! And, because our luck never seemed to run out that night, we managed to squeeze in a quick meet and greet with Gary and Jesse!

Squee! We even got our tickets signed:

Needless to say, we were giddy all night. Potted Potter is definitely one for the books, pun intended!