Potted Potter - the unauthorised Potter experience.
I first heard about Potted Potter whilst waiting in the seriously long queue for wristbands at the Harry Potter premiere back in July. As a major fan of the series I was looking for anything to help carry me through my Potterless days so as soon as I got home I booked tickets.
Booking, Price and Availability
As this wasn't a proper theatre show the tickets were fairly cheap with under 16s costing £16, adults costing £22. If you're booking for a family of 4 tickets only cost £16 each. I was very happy with this considering my Love Never Dies tickets set me back £75, with this being almost one third of the price. The booking was a disaster. If you're going to book tickets for this online do not, I repeat, do not, use the Garrick Theatre's website. It seems simple enough until it asks for your credit card details and then all hell breaks loose with complications and in the end I just had to cancel the order. The screen then said that the tickets had been reserved for me and I could simply call the help line to retrieve them and use a different payment method; however, when I called them (between the hours stated) nobody picked up. I tried again, picking different tickets this time as my previous ones were now 'unavailable', with the same results. I was getting very frustrated as I now had two sets of tickets reserved with no way of having them re-released. Not only did this make me very annoyed, but it also meant that neither I, nor anyone else in the general public, could now purchase these tickets just because the website started malfunctioning when I began the payment process. I gave up completely and moved over to ticketmaster.co.uk. Here I got a very different experience. It was a smooth process, all I had to do was pick the date, use their interactive map to see which seats I wanted, enter my payment details and voila! The tickets were booked. ticketmaster.co.uk is definitely my favourite website for booking tickets on as it has such a wide variety of tickets from sports to exhibitions to musicals to concerts and much much more. The booking process on their website is simple and quick, no hassle at all, so I highly recommend you use ticketmaster.co.uk when buying tickets as opposed to going directly to the theatre's website as I have found it to be much more reliable. As I said before, this isn't a major theatre production, it's just a 70 minute show that two Potter fans have created and they are now touring around Britain performing it. This meant that tickets were very easy to come by and they weren't very high in demand. Even though the show is closing fairly soon there are still plenty of tickets to choose from, so don't worry about booking late.
Potted Potter is currently being shown at the Garrick theatre in central London. It is very easy to get to with Charing Cross station only a 5 minute walk away. It is located on a main road (Charing Cross Road) so you don't have to spend ages looking around for it. At the moment there are some refurbishments going on in the building next door so there is a lot of scaffolding next to the theatre but apart from that it's easy to see from afar. You can get to Charing Cross from either the Bakerloo or the Northern line, both of which usually have good service on the underground. The theatre is very close to Leicester and Trafalgar Square so if you're going to see this, you may as well make a day of it and visit the sights and do a bit of shopping too. The theatre was actually quite a lot smaller than I expected (even smaller than the Adelphi where Love Never Dies was performed). There are two very small bars located inside, the Foyer bar, and the Circle bar. You can buy drinks/sweets/programmes here. The auditorium is split into three levels with a total of 732 seats (bit of a random number), which is quite a lot seeing as the theatre is so narrow. I was sat in the dress circle (second level) and there was a large slanting ceiling above me which made the theatre feel even smaller and there was a slight sense of claustrophobia. However, I was in row E, which is quite near the back of the Dress Circle, but because the way they layered the seats I had an almost perfect view. I could see some of the audience members sitting in the stalls at the front standing up every now and again to see what was going on at the back of the stage so I think in this case it is better to be higher up.
As soon as I entered there was a man on the stage sitting on a little train reading Harry Potter. He literally just sat there for about half an hour reading. It was a little odd. This is a two man show - literally. The only two people on stage are Dan and Jeff (supposedly they are on CBBC, but they must be fairly recent additions since I have never heard of them). The show wasn't what I was expected at all. I was expecting a funny parody of all 7 Harry Potter books but instead we got Jeff briefly explaining the plot, stopping every now and again and stepping out of character to tell Dan off for doing something wrong. Jeff played Harry Potter and Dan played every other character and for some reason Ron was a gangster, Hagrid was Scottish, Hermione was a man, Voldemort was the devil - and oh, the list goes on. This is definitely a show for younger Harry Potter fans, I'd recommend this for 5-12 year olds and their parents. I found the humour a little laborious at times but nonetheless it was still rather funny. I have to admit that I thought it was funniest was Dan did something wrong. For example, he went off stage and came back on with chocolate all over his face but it was clear that in the hurry he had smeared much too much on and he now had a resemblance to Jesus. Dan himself was trying not to laugh but it was quite difficult not to. He improvised the humour to explain himself and this was funniest. It was a very interactive show with 'quidditch' matched - beach ball being thrown around the audience - and a lot of shouting out from the audience, if you're in the stalls you may even get sprayed with a water gun. Without a doubt the funniest moment was when two seekers were invited onto the stage and they had to catch the snitch (Jeff in a gold costume) and a little 8 year old girl brought him to the floor. I don't think that that was supposed to happen and the audience was in hysterics. It really is humorous watching an unsuspecting 40 year old getting floored by an 8 year old. There is also a 'music-off' between Voldemort and Harry Potter right at the end to the music 'I Will Survive' which is rather clever and funny.
All in all, this show was very funny, but the improvised bits were the funniest and the humour is definitely that that will appeal to the younger generation. If your children are Harry Potter fans then I highly recommend you take them to see this as they will no doubt be highly entertained for about 70 mins.
This show ends on the 3rd of September so book your tickets now!