In some ways, Puffs might be seen as an entertaining, funny, and frenetic look at what Hufflepuffs were up to during the years Harry Potter was at Hogwarts, but in other strictly legal ways, it isn’t. Sure, there’s a certain boy character with a scar who wears glasses and is referred to as either, “Harry,” or “Potter,” throughout the show – never both names together – but it isn’t that story.
And yeah, the setting purports to be, Seven increasingly eventful years at a certain school of magic and magic, but it *wink* isn’t *wink* that story. That can be said, however, is that Puffs is a wonderful show, albeit a densely inter-textual one.
Regardless of the legal stuff, playwright Matt Cox hasn’t given himself an easy task, hanging his story on another very-well know story, without that story overwhelming his. This isn’t a show with Easter Eggs.
While a reasonable knowledge of the Potter books and films will ensure you don’t get lost and have a good time, a strong grasp on the material is required as otherwise some lines and moments won’t make sense. It’s to the cast’s credit that despite the frantic storytelling, scenes are as coherent and engaging as they are.
Much like that ‘other’ story, Puffs is anchored by a heroic trio: Oliver, Megan, and Wayne. Collecting all the great halls, Ryan Hawke swaps Toad Hall for Hogw- ah, ‘that’ one in a delightful performance as Wayne. Keith Brockett and Eva Seymour were fantastic in their respective roles as Oliver and Megan.
All the cast were terrific, with Matt Whitty’s Alan Rickman voice a hilarious highlight, while Annabelle Tudor also stood out, fearless in taking on a multitude of characters like a theatrical Swiss army knife.
When the show swerves blue in the second half when the Puffs are confronted by their PE teacher, it’s feels abrupt and random, but admittedly works considering how everything has been squished and compacted. Compression is to be expected – cramming seven years of school into a play will do that – but there’s barely time to get an emotional grip on most of the characters as they enter and leave the stage in a matter of seconds.
During the final year, when the hallowed halls of the school are under deathly attack. These moments should be meaningless as there’s nothing for the audience to base their, “aww…”s on, yet again the cast make it work and these wee moments don’t feel empty.
When Miriam Margolyes announced Puffs earlier in the year, she promised something spectacular and fun, which this cast and crew have delivered in abundance.
PUFFS or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic
The Alex Theatre, 135 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda
Performance: Wednesday 30 May 2018 – 7.30pm
Season continues to 8 July 2018 2018
For more information, visit: www.puffstheplay.com for details.
Image: Tammy Weller, Zenya Carmellotti, Daniel Cosgrove, Keith Brockett, Olivia Charalambous, Ryan Hawke, Eva Seymour and Matt Whitty feature in PUFFS – photo by Ben Fon- photo by Ben Fon
Review: David Collins