Aug 30, 2012

[Theater] Potted Potter Manila

It's interesting how it seems (I'll stress this is a perception-based opinion) that we're seeing more and more international theater touring groups visiting Manila these days. Definitely not complaining - I'm happy that they're making the trip here and giving access to great shows like Mamma Mia! and The Phantom of the Opera for those folks who lack the budget to travel abroad just for the sake of theater.

And when this show came along, I didn't really know what to think of it at first. I had never heard of it before, but naturally the Harry Potter fan in me was significantly curious. And when I noticed that the show would be opening on the night of my 30th birthday, I figured enjoying a bit of geeky theater would be a nice way to celebrate instead of some big party.

I am a geek after all. More than an hour of celebrating a fantasy book series in a comedic fashion sounds like a lot more fun that trying to entertain guests or other such social activities.

And I was certainly surprised by how much I ended up enjoying this show, which was certainly a unique experience.

Synopsis: Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience - A Parody by Dan and Jeff is a comedic parody of all seven Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling into a single 70(ish) minute experience. It started as a street performance that sort of took on a life of its own until it became the Oliver Awards nominated production that it is today.

Potted Potter Manila involves the touring group based out of Australia - Jesse Briton and Gary Trainor. The run was set for only 10 shows from August 28 - September 2, 2012 at the Carlos P. Romulo Theater at the RCBC Plaza in Makati city.

Gary Trainor
The premise of the show is straightforward enough - you have our two performers Jesse and Gary who will take you through all seven Harry Potter books in a rather abbreviated fashion. From the very beginning Jesse makes it clear that Gary is one of THE foremost experts on Harry Potter and thus is the best person to take us through the books. However that leaves Jesse to handle everything else from set design to casting the extras despite having never read any of the books. One thing leads to another and we have Gary pretty much driving the story with himself playing the role of Harry and Jesse ends up playing pretty much everything else.

Now the show follows the almost "traditional" pairing of the straight man (Gary) and the wild and unpredictable clown character (Jesse), especially with how Gary is positioned as the expert and Jesse as the moron (and that's a quote from the performance!) The chemistry between the two is pretty phenomenal and the two are able to bounce energy off of one another rather well. And given there's no one else in the show, this is a key piece of why the whole things worked out as well as it did (and will continue to do so, of course).

Naturally the big scene-stealer and true star of the show is Jesse and his many crazy antics on stage and sometimes among the members of the audience. And besides being funny and able to think well on his feet when jokes don't go quite as planned, he also comes off as rather adorkable for many reasons why. I'll try to define that term at length at a later point in time - it's a pretty useful word when discussing reasons for crushes in geek circles.

Beyond the show being funny in itself, I really appreciated how there were a lot of opportunities for audience participation and the fact that there was clearly a lot of research done in order to somehow localize the play. And this is a generally common practice among touring groups like how the cast of The Lion King musical made references to Singapore unique housing arrangements when we watched last year. But in this case, the number of local references was just crazy and it certainly had the desired effect of getting more and more laughs (or at least some pretty loud reactions) from members of the audience.

The energy level of this production is insane and me and my friends were already starting to feel the pain of laughing too much before we had even gotten past the second Harry Potter book. It was THAT funny and I feel bad for any other Harry Potter fans who don't get to watch the show's run in Manila.

Do you need to be a die-hard fan to enjoy the show? Probably not, but of course you'll get the maximum enjoyment from knowing the series decently well. And for even more fun, you better be geeky enough to pick up other fantasy references from works like The Chronicles of Narnia or even The Lord of the Rings. At the end of they day, just roll with it and prepare to have fun. When it doubt, it's better to just play along.

And best of all, Jesse and Gary stayed behind to sign autographs and take pictures with the fans! So yes, we waited for our chance to geek out even more...

It's Jesse!

And it's Gary!
Needless to say we had a LOT of fun and it certainly was a great and geeky way to celebrate my 30th birthday. So yeah, it goes without saying that I rate this production a full 5 crazy hats that Jesse wears to represent the various characters out of a possible 5!

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  1. Here is my own honest review of this show: By the way, where did you buy your Ravenclaw t-shirt?!

  2. BOO! Why did I just hear of this now? Too bad I missed it. It's two things I love in one show, Harry Potter and comedy. Boo. :(

    Belated happy birthday! XD

  3. Aww, too bad! Hopefully they swing by Manila again next year or something.

  4. Picked it up at the Harry Potter Exhibition in Singapore. Overpriced merchandise, yes, but I'm still happy to have it.

  5. I didn't hear about this. Still, I'm not a huge Potter fan so it's okay. As a show I'm sure it was a blast!