Posts Tagged ‘Dan Clarkson’

Potted Panto and Potted Potter were such big seasonal hits with old and young that booking this was a bit of a no-brainer (even though the same gang already had another Christmas treat in the diary). Though there is much to enjoy in this third outing of the formula, it didn’t really live up to the other two and left me wondering if the Potted franchise is running out of steam.

On this occasion they attempt all 60 Arthur Conan Doyle stories in 80 minutes (plus a completely unnecessary interval, no doubt inserted by Nimax Theatres for reasons of a profiteering nature). This means that some are relegated to lines in a song or brief mentions and others given the normal Potted treatment, particularly The Hound of the Baskervilles, which spanned the somewhat intrusive interval. This is much less satisfying that the ‘miniatures’ that the previous show contained.

There is no doubting the charm and engagement Dan & Jeff create, but this year they’ve added a third performer, Lizzie Wort, and though she is perfectly capable, and has good chemistry with the boys, this somehow changes the dynamic without really adding much value. There are fewer characters than usual, which provides less opportunity for comic characterisation, and the set and props seemed less inventive. The biggest impression it left was that it was still work-in-progress rather than a fully developed show.

We had fun – and in all fairness the godson (AKA target audience) was laughing aloud a lot – but not as much as we expected. On this form, the godfather (AKA the grumpy old man, me) probably wouldn’t do a 4th. Methinks those Mischief Theatre boys & girls might have eclipsed Dan & Jeff with their ‘…..goes wrong’ series, but they haven’t got to three yet!

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Their other show, Potted Panto, was the biggest hit of all the show’s I’ve taken my youngest godson to, so this was a popular choice; I think we actually enjoyed it even more.

It takes its lead from the Reduced Shakespeare Company, who’s The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) first appeared over 30 years ago and really started the genre. That was 37 plays in 97 minutes. Potted Panto was 8 pantos in 80 minutes. This is all 7 Harry Potter books in 70 minutes – that’s the recession for you!

It’s a two-handed parody with no set but a lot of props (and extraordinary special effects!), with the audience participating in a Quidditch match. There’s a fair share of ad-libbing, which adds to the fun, and the humour is of the silly variety (with a welcome snipe at Michael Gove for dropping drama from the school curriculum!), but Dan & Jeff are very engaging and the show has bags of charm.

There are running gags about the show’s budget for actors and animatronics and exactly how many of the books Dan has actually read, Ron’s gone all ‘street’, Hagrid is suitably Scottish, and the train, snake, dragon and elf all make an appearance. The auditorium’s transformation into a Quidditch stadium is a hoot and snitch is simply extraordinary!

The real coup of the show is that it’s thoroughly enjoyable at any age – it was as much of a treat for me as it was for my godson and his chum – and that’s very unusual and very clever.

So what’s next? My vote is for all 11 Doctor Who’s in 110 minutes!

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