Saturday, February 2, 2013

Potted Potter (Lunchbox Theatrical)

♣♣♣♣/♣♣♣♣♣

Offering a condensed version of all seven Harry Potter Books in seventy minutes, Potted Potter is a rather hilarious parody made possible by the comic tandem of Gary Trainor and Jesse Briton, who present themselves as two stage actors (which they are) trying to come up with a stage adaptation of the books. Trainor is the actor portrayed as the expert in everything Harry Potter, while Briton plays the part of the clueless co-actor whose supposed ignorance of the story serves as a good source of most of the laughter from the audience. The parody features a live game of Quidditch, which involves two members of the audience tackling Trainor while dressed in a tacky gold ensemble as the Golden Snitch.

Improvisation makes up for the utter lack of set, props, and appropriate wardrobe. The two state from the very beginning that it is supposed to be a grand spectacle but turned Improv due to Briton’s irresponsible management of their funds, which is of course part of the script. The atmosphere is similar to that of a stand up comedy show, in which the dialogue is key to the humor. They also play up the comedy of errors produced by the conflict between the Harry Potter Purist (Trainor) and the indifferent wannabe joining the bandwagon (Briton), to which any Harry Potter fan could easily relate.

Loads of pop culture references including Twilight and Lord of the Rings are also brought up, along with some local flavor which includes Ateneo, Eraserheads, and Boracay. As Briton would gladly announce onstage, he did his homework, and the audience could not be more elated because of it, as evidenced by the way they erupt in laughter after every one-liner that has something to do with the Philippines. However, cultural differences also come into play, such as the rather non-enthusiastic reaction of the crowd when the two make fun of teaching as a profession, given how teachers are very well revered in this country. No damage control was necessary though, as Filipinos are easy to forgive such mini trivialities especially when they are having fun.

The highlight of the show is obviously the Quidditch match. This part of the show offers good variety depending on the members of the audience chosen. For this particular staging, the boy they got for Gryffindor was a Caucasian blonde reminiscent of Draco Malfoy. The boy they got for Slytherin was Asian with big spectacles a la Harry Potter. Mixed-up it was indeed, and those kids were just so game in chasing Trainor around the stage as he pranced around as the Snitch. In some interviews, the duo would confess that they sometimes choose a little girl and a muscular guy to play those parts. One could only imagine how hilarious that ought to be.

Whether you are familiar with the world of Harry Potter or not, there are still some laughs in store for you, if you appreciate slapstick, that is. In any case, the Harry Potter fan would surely love the show given how the two make fun of not just about everything in the Harry Potter universe, but also themselves. Maybe it is this readiness of theirs to go Ad Hominem on each other that makes each staging different from the last.

Still, there are some reservations in recommending it to everyone, because it looks as though it is not that universal in terms of appeal. The middle-aged man in front of me did not laugh in the entire duration of the show. At all. And despite the dim lighting at the venue, one could see the baffled expression on his face while observing everyone else laughing their heads off. Maybe the show chooses an audience, but perhaps that audience being pertained to is the majority in this case, because Trainor and Briton obviously brought the house down.

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