Are you a diehard Harry fan? Harry Potter, that is — not Harry Styles.
There’s good news for lovers of the book and movie series, and those who wouldn’t know a magic-yielding wand if it smacked them square in the forehead.
Global theatre show Potted Potter, the unauthorised Harry Potter parody that’s running from September 17-21, at Ductac’s Centrepoint Theatre at Mall of the Emirates, is for everyone — aficionados and disinterested parties alike.
James Percy and Benjamin Stratton are the two comedian-actors tasked with condensing all seven Harry Potter books into just 70 minutes each night and pleasing everyone in the process. Percy, who grew up on the books and films and always dreamt of being Harry Potter, plays the young and wizardly protagonist himself, while Stratton breaks a sweat flitting between every other major character in the book.
“A lot of the comedy comes from watching these two guys struggle to do the impossible task — or what seems to be impossible — and Harry Potter just happens to be the background to what they’re doing,” Percy told tabloid!.
“If you’re a real big Harry Potter fan, you might get certain little references a little bit more, but no, we always have full different crowds of people coming, who go from knowing everything to knowing absolutely nothing, and everybody always seems to have a great time.”
Ahead of their Dubai run, Percy told us all about their most intense crowd — and that one time they may have accidentally turned away author J.K. Rowling from a sold-out show.
Q: What do you bring to your Potted Potter characters?
A: What I bring is that I’m that bit more mature now. You get to see a full-grown man play Harry, and likewise, you get to see a full-grown man play Hermione, which is quite the treat. I mean, Ben’s Hermione is beautiful — you should really see her.
Q: Where did you encounter the most intense fan base?
A: We were in America last year, and we did three months playing New York City, and that was really intense. As Brits, we tend to just hide our light under a bushel a little bit more, and we’re a bit more awkward and reserved, but the American audiences were just wild — absolutely crazy. Most shows we’d come, and nearly 80 per cent of the audience were in Hogwarts robes and had all the scarves on and they all knew what House they were in. We met a woman once who came to the stage door in New York, who had all the Hogwarts House emblems tattooed down her back.
Q: Do you change the show up every night?
A: It’s very heavily improvised. We know where we’re starting and we know where we’re finishing up, but the journey that we take each night is always a little bit different. The audience play a big, big part in the show — it’s definitely not one of those shows where you can just sit in the darkness and not get involved.
Q: What’s your favourite bit of the show?
A: One of them is probably Quidditch. Every night, we play a live, full game of Quidditch with the entire audience, which — I believe we’re the only place in the world where you can go and play a live game of Quidditch in a theatre! And then also, the finale of the show. I won’t give too much away, but we end on a musical number, which is always quite a treat.
Q: Have you ever had anyone involved with the books or movies comment on Potted Potter?
A: We haven’t had the big three yet — we’re still waiting for Harry, Ron and Hermione to show up, but we’ve had a few people. We’ve had Warwick Davis most recently, and he loved it. The story goes that, back in Edinburgh a few years ago, the show was playing and it was sold out, and a woman came to the box office to try and get a ticket, and the girl at the box office said, you know, ‘I’m sorry but it’s sold out,’ and it was only then that the theatre manager walks by, and is pretty sure that that woman is J.K. Rowling. So now, whenever we play, wherever we play in the world, we always have one seat saved, should J.K. Rowling show up.