Review: Potted Panto, Vaudeville

“Why am I talking to a French fairy god-chicken?”
Potted Panto is CBBC presenters Dan and Jeff’s offering to the family Christmas show market, featuring their inimitable interpretative approach to festive favourites. After distilling JK Rowling’s seven Harry Potter novels into 70 minutes in Potted Potter, it is pantomimes that get the treatment this time round as seven classics are concertina-ed into 95 madcap minutes at the Vaudeville Theatre: the show perches in front of the resident An Ideal Husband set and the schedule works around that show too, offering more family-friendly viewing times.

What really works about the show is that is observes all the conventions of pantomime whilst lampooning them: the irreverent humour and boy does it get irreverent, is frequently hysterical yet it always remains affectionate and so not alienating the young’uns. Dan delights in pointing out that ‘happily ever after’ rarely means that for the baddies, there’s fun in seeing Prince Charming’s short attention span when it comes to his brides and the general ridiculousness of so many of the plots. There’s a great deal of audience participation as all the call and response routines are dissected and observed and the ground-breaking 3D section is a work of genius.

The pantos covered are Jack and the Beanstalk with the back half of pantomime cow, a Boris-fied Dick Whittington and his Cat, Sleeping Beauty with a Prince who tries all sorts of ways to wake her up before giving the kiss, Cinderella with a Prince who finds his ideal partner in the audience and Snow White done hilariously to a recording on the ‘gramnophone’. And the finale, a mash-up of Aladdin and A Christmas Carol featuring Abanazar Scrooge (it’s like it was always meant to be) with a small but hilarious assist from a chestnut seller ends things perfectly.

The pair of them clearly have a great relationship and their energy really helps to keep the whole show bubbling along, especially when trying to make each other laugh. There’s such a fresh feel to the material, combined with a real ability to respond to both the audience and events happening onstage as mayhem threatens to take over, that makes you feel that each performance will be unique and well worth catching.

Running time: 95 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 9th January

Review: Potted Potter, Trafalgar Studios

“Dumbledore’s the greatest sorcerer alive – and he went into teaching?”

Having never previously been to the tiny Studio 2 in the basement of the Trafalgar Studios, I’ve now been twice in three weeks: after the highly enjoyable Public Property comes now “the unauthorised Harry experience”, otherwise known as Potted Potter. A whirlwind trip through all 7 of the Harry Potter books, performed by two CBBC presenters, Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner, with a collection of wigs, props and a generous helping of tomfoolery, this was 70 minutes of warm-hearted, unchallenging, silly fun.

It’s a family-oriented show and so is strictly PG-rated, but this is probably for the best as it meant the material has worked harder to be funny rather than just smutty and innuendo-laden. And it did feel more like an extended comedy routine at times than a show per se: not that that was a bad thing, just a little unexpected. As with all the best parodies, there was some affectionate mickey-taking along with the story-telling, especially in the constant references to the outside world, but there’s no doubting how much fun the two performers were having onstage and that was infectious. Continue reading “Review: Potted Potter, Trafalgar Studios”