Before barely a word had been spoken about what the show would entail, tickets for Potter Unplotted started selling like hotcakes, such is the widespread popularity of JK Rowling’s legacy.
Very little was revealed about the show itself, other than the fact that it was being run by Brisbane impro heavyweights ImproMafia as part of the Brisbane Comedy Festival 2017 at the Brisbane Powerhouse (28 February), yet somehow this was enough.
After selling out all of the original dates, two more dates were later added, which also both sold out. Evidently Brisbane has more than its fair share of muggles who want to know more about the Potterverse, whether it’s Rowling approved or not.
After some entertaining crowd interaction from a few ‘professors’ as the crowd took their seats, a live quiz decided who was going to be declared the Supreme Mugwump for the evening’s entertainment. It was explained that this role entailed clanging a bell whenever something happened that wouldn’t make sense in the Potterverse, forcing the improviser to restate the previous statement in a more canonical manner.
Shortly after the performers took the stage, as a ‘Goblet of Fire’ full of the names of 150 characters from the Potterverse was passed around the crowd to draw three randomly. Each name was then read from the stage with a short sentence as to their background, with the chosen name being decided by crowd cheering and reaction.
On this occasion the biggest reaction went to Cornelius Fudge, the disgraced minister for magic. The entire show would be based on this solitary character and the untold back story they told. The performers then left the stage ready to return for the chaos.
What followed was a show so hilariously ridiculous, yet surprisingly coherent that you wondered whether it had been scripted with the performers going off on tangents.
The story was an absurd series of twists and turns that hinged around the stealing paper supplies. It was as though we were almost navigating into 'The Office' territory as the devious father described his nefarious plan to increase his paper supplies by embroiling his daughter into his schemes.
It feels surreal describing the plot that entailed considering the nature of impro, knowing that all of this was made up on the spot. But there were so many joyous moments, you can’t help but describe a few.
When the boss, played by Luke Rimmelzwaan, described the papier mâché bust that he intended to put on the grave of an employee of his who was still alive, there was something absurd yet touching about it all that sent me into a fit of hysterics. This was in no small part due to the quality of the performers on stage.
Whether it’s the wonderful straight-facedness of Amy Currie and Ryan Goodwin or the ludicrousness of Luke and Brittany White, there’s a real feeling of joy between the players, which makes the whole thing hang together so seamlessly.
Any scene involving Luke and Tom Dunstan felt like it could fall apart at any moment in lesser hands as the experienced performers played off against each other, but they had the experience to carry it of flawlessly.
Amazingly, they managed to tie all of the loose ends together to give the story a satisfying conclusion, which somehow made sense in the grand scheme of it all. Though it was the little moments of joy that could never be scripted which elevated the performance to another level.
With every night involving a different story with different characters, after this opening performance, I wouldn’t blame someone wanting to go to every one.