All 7 Harry Potter books in 70 minutes
The unfortunate reality of devoted fandom is that sometimes the curtain falls on the objects of our affection. Long after we’ve waited in line for hours outside the bookstore or braved the throngs of costumed fans for a midnight showing of the movie premier, the action simply comes to a close.
And with good reason. Eventually, the One Ring is returned to Mount Doom. The Death Star is destroyed. Daenerys Targaryen…well, I guess we’ll find out but the point is that no matter how strong our devotion, all great works are destined in one way or another for the shelf.
So it is for fans of the Harry Potter series.
The books have been written and the movies are all available on DVD. Even the Harry Potter experience at Universal Studios opened long enough ago for the average muggle to have enjoyed a “butter beer” or three by now.
For 70 minutes, however, fans and casual observers of the entire series can relive the magic of the Boy who Lived in Potted Potter, the “unofficial parody” (as if there were any other kind) when the Shakespeare Theater Company brings the farce to Sidney Harman Hall beginning September 5th.
Wait, 70 minutes? Aren’t there over 4,000 pages of material to cover?
That’s right, and therein lies the Horcrux of the Potted Potter promise: to deliver all seven books to an audience in 70 minutes. It’s a challenge that comic duo “Dan and Jeff” have eagerly attacked since mounting the series in 2005.
“Dan and Jeff” are Daniel Clarkson and Jeff Turner, each familiar faces from the Children’s British Broadcasting Corporation (CBBC) and two-time Olivier Award nominees. It’s the Potted Potter creation, however, that has won them acclaim from across the pond in such outlets as The New York Times and The Toronto Star.
So what exactly is Potted Potter, besides a watered-down synopsis of the books? It began as a slapdash street performance to entertain fans waiting in line for the release of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,” the sixth in the series. Dan and Jeff sought to do five books in five minutes to the delight of fans in line, and it worked.
According to Jeff Turner, “we assumed it would be a one-off.” It wasn’t.
Since the 2005 street debut, the show has grown and evolved in performances across the United Kingdom and in North America, while the show has expanded to include the sixth and seventh books.
The Potted Potter work is one in a series of parodies that include Potted Pirates and Potted Panto, but is by far the standout work amongst fans.
“Geek is cool right now,” Turner says, admitting that the Harry Potter phenomenon is as much a cause of Potted Potter’s success as the actors or concept itself.
Dan and Jeff perform as Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore and You-Know-Who, among others, in a condensed retelling of the series. Wit, timing and endless props are on hand to help the duo cast a touch of riddikulusness on the series, which Turner describes as less a lampoon and more a comedic celebration of J.K. Rowling’s work.
The result is a show Turner hopes audiences can enjoy both “as a piece of theater and a piece of comedy.”
Closes September 15, 2013
Sidney Harman Hall
610 F Street NW
Tickets: $45 – $95
Wednesdays thru Sundays
Details and Tickets
“If you make a mistake (with the facts of the story), heaven forbid,” Turner says, calling Harry Potter devotees “fanatical.” “We were genuinely nervous.”
At the same time, Turner says that as sincere fans of the Harry Potter books, he and co-performer Daniel Clarkson “make the jokes a Harry Potter fan would make. It works so well because we both love the books.”
Turner eagerly points to the continuing evolution of the performance.
“There’s always something new you can reference,” Turner says, noting that after 1,500 shows “we aren’t good enough actors to not get bored of it.”
Washington, DC audiences will have an opportunity to decide for themselves just how good Dan and Jeff really are when the Shakespeare Theater Company brings them to Washington on September 5th. For their part, this will be Dan and Jeff’s first visit to the Capitol region.
“We’re genuinely excited,” Turner says. “It’s number one on the list of where we want to go.” True fans may want to camp out around the Jefferson Memorial, where Turner says he sincerely intends to visit.
With 16 showings in the Washington area, fans may not need to stand outside at midnight to get their turn at a ticket. But, for 70 minutes at Sidney Harman Hall, Hogwarts will be open for fans as well as the uninitiated once again.