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Time Out Theater Review: "Potted Potter"

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Teen wizard Harry Potter is in the spotlight in the new off-Broadway play "Potted Potter." Time Out New York contributing critic David Cote filed the following review.

There are scores of magic spells in the world of Harry Potter, but I don’t know any that could cram all seven bestselling books into a 70-minute show.

That hasn’t stopped Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner: despite having a chintzy set, lame costumes and a partial grasp of J.K. Rowling’s 4,000-odd pages, these ambitious "Muggles" promise an awesome recap with "Potted Potter: The Unauthorized Harry Experience."

Spoiler alert: what we get is less a bravura condensation of the books and more a goofy riff on the whole idea of Potter superfandom.

For Potter aficionados above the age of nine, I must point out: this is a kids’ show, aimed squarely at youths who will cackle over Narnia/Hogwarts mix-ups, a running Quidditch gag and broad, goofy accents. If you go hoping for a clever or incisive summing-up of the boy-wizard epic and commentary about the work’s cultural impact or differences between the films and the novels, you will leave grumbling.

"Potted Potter" began life in 2005 as a London street act, and while there’s amusing character quick-switches and audience interaction, it remains more of a stunt than a show.

At least the performers are charming and have good audience rapport. Turner, bespectacled and easily exasperated, is the nerdy, earnest Harry. Lanky and laid-back, Clarkson portrays everyone else with the aid of cheap accessories and silly voices.

Huge stretches of plot and scores of characters are ignored in "Potted Potter," which I suppose is part of the joke. But with a top ticket price of $70, parents might fare better at "Peter And The Starcatcher," a young-adult play that’s just as funny and considerably more enchanting.

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