Harry Potter parody show arrives to make magic on the Toronto stage
First things first: my eight-year-old loved this show SO MUCH and giggled like a fiend the entire time. If your child under the age of about 14 is a big fan of Harry Potter, just accept with good cheer that you ought to be going to see Potted Potter at the CAA Theatre, and the show will be good-natured silly fun. The concept–all 7 books in 7 minutes–goes past a Cole’s Notes and squarely into a sort of theatrical shorthand, so if you’ve never read the books you’re mostly just watching two dudes do some skilled slapstick and improv. Then again, no one ever suffered for that.
In truth, Potted Potter is a classic clown duo show with an icing of Harry Potter over top. There’s the oh-so-serious one and the completely ridiculous one, each overplaying broadly but pleasingly — in the performance I saw, it was Scott Hoatson as the diligent keeper of all Harry Potter knowledge and Joseph Maudsley fouling everything up left and right. Scott appealed repeatedly to the audience for sympathy in his plight of having to keep Joe in line, and Joe kept the audience in stitches with his antics. The opening show I saw had a real freshness to it, as though this pairing is perhaps not as familiar with each other — a lot of Joe’s quips and cracks seemed to be actually unfamiliar to Scott, who is either incredibly skilled at appearing to be trying to keep a straight face, or was actually tickled, repeatedly.
Potted Potter is well-written and well organized for comedy — there are both long recurring jokes and one-off short gags, giving the piece a pleasing texture. The humor is squeaky-clean and topical, so parents ought to have no concerns about bringing little kids. And mid-show, two audience members are brought onstage as the entire audience participates in a rousing game of something like a rather distant relative of Quiddich. This, too, is a happy frolicsome time, including sight gags and the spectacle — on opening night — of two 8-year olds tackling a grown man dressed in a gold lamé petticoat and safety-yellow hard hat (confidential to Scott: the one in the hedgehog-print leggings was mine. Sorry about your shoulder, there).
There’s actually a ton of talent here, which is why the entire show seems so loose-limbed and always in danger of veering off the rails. And yet, it never does. Whether in questionably-consensual embraces with a dragon or noisy arguments (people don’t realize how hard this is to do onstage, actually), Hoatson and Maudsley totally sell it. Morro and Jasp are still my very favorite of all clown duos, but I have to say that this cast of Potted Potter is a close second.
- Potted Potter is playing at the CAA Theatre, formerly the Panasonic Theatre, until July 22, 2018.
- Performances are somewhat variable, but in general they’re Tuesday to Friday at 7:30pm, Saturday at 2:00pm, 5:00pm, and 8:00pm & Sunday at 2:00pm and 7:30pm. A few Sundays feature 11:00am performances as well.
- Tickets range from $40 to $90. Group rates are available for groups of 15 or more, call 416 593 4142 for details.
- Tickets can be purchased online, by phone by calling 416 872 1212, or in person at the box office.
- Run Time: about 80 minutes with no intermission.
- Audience Advisory: Use of strobe, fog, and occasional loud noises. Babes in arms or children under the age of 2 are not permitted in the theatre. Children older than 2 should be able to sit quietly in their own seats throughout the performance.