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THE NEW YORK THEATRE WIRE sm

Remy.S

 

Accio Laugh a Lot !

 

"PUFFS or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic & Magic"
Presented by Tilted Windmills Theatricals
At The Elektra Theater (300 West 43rd Street)
Ticket information : www.PuffsthePlay.com
Extended through June 25, 2017 
Fridays at 7:30 PM, Saturdays at 9:30 PM and Sunday at 3:00 PM. 
3:00 PM Saturday performances start March 4.
Running time : 1 hour 30 minutes without intermition
Reviewed by Remy.S February 25, 2017.

Schools will forever be schools. Whether they are in Europe or in America, whether they’re sports or drama schools, they will forever be schools . It will always be eight or nine years of your life, living in a micro society where people are unwillingly classified : goths, sports, celebrities, geeks, nerds, winners… and losers. During seven books and eight movies, we followed Harry Potter, the most powerful wizard of all time who saved the world from Lord Voldemor. Through seven books and eight movies, we followed a winner. With Puff, during 90 minutes, you’re going to watch the whole story over again. But this time, you’re going to follow Wayne, the loser of Hogwarts.

 

Zac Moon (Far Left) with Julie Ann Earls ,Langston Belton, Andy Miller. Photo by Hunter Canning.

We all know the story: Harry, a young boy whose destiny is to kill the most evil wizard of all time while he studies in the greatest school of magic, bla bla bla. But Harry Hermione and Ron weren’t the only students at Hogwarts. There were four families  and one of them is known for being quite unknown : Hufflepuff, AKA the Puffs. This is the starting point of PUFFS: making us watch the whole story of Harry Potter from another point of view, by following the Puffs family, which is made of all the losers, shys, geeks and wierdos of Hogwarts. And if Gryffindor has his Harry Hermione and Ron, the Puffs have Wayne, Oliver and Megan. If you have one show to see right now...well, go to see Hamilton ! And then, go to see "The Puffs" !

In the top three of best selling books, we can find the Bible and Harry Potter. The Bible has Monty Python’s "Life of Brian " and now Harry Potter has "Puffs." Even though I’m a big fan of Monthy Python, I enjoyed Puffs more, because I know Harry Potter better than I know The Bible! As in "Life of Brian," the new Hero, Wayne, is just a guy behind the main character, helping him in the shadows, having the same mission and the same problems. Wayne has everything it takes to be Harry Potter, but he’s just Wayne, the greatest loser of all time. This show is hilarious from the beginning to the end. Matt Cox offers us a lesson in parody , one gag every five seconds or less, and sometimes, we can’t hear anything because we are still laughing at the gags before. He succeeds in highlighting all the little things that were weird in the movies: when it was illogical, too easy, far-fetched. His vision of Harry is hilarious: Potter is a cheesy nice guy who ignores that he’s the hero and that he’s perfect. He’s the annoying lucky winner from the puff/loser’s point of view.

But I won’t give all the credit to the writer, because "Life of Brian" was filmed, and "Harry Potter" too. "Puffs" is on stage. Kristin McCarthy Parker succeeds brilliantly in putting on stage every special effect of Harry Potter: curses, giant spiders, the sorting hat, the Quidditch, the giant bathtub, Voldemort’s makeup and even the three severe tests of the fourth book ("The Gobelet of Fire "). Everything, every detail of Hogwarts is there, a wonderful proof that we don’t need special effects to dream and laugh, and that a good stage director with talent and imagination has no limit.

 

(Front Row) Andy Miller, Jessie Cannizzaro, Julie Ann Earls, Zac Moon, Madeleine Bundy (Back Row) Nick Carrillo, Langston Belton, Madeleine Bundy. Photo by HUNTER CANNING

One last ingredient for this potion: the cast. I heard Matt Cox at a seminar saying that he’s an improviser and he loves giving freedom to the actors. They are free, they have talent, they listen to each other and they try to make each other laugh as much as they try to make us laugh at them ! This is the secret of a good comedy: be sure that every night is going to be different, that the cast is going to feel the audience and, gag after gag, give more energy to offer a unique performance. Seeing this cast playing is to be jealous of them: playing Harry Potter with friends ? We spend 90 minutes wishing to be on stage with them. Like in Ollivanders’shop, a wand chooses his wizard, it’s seems that the cast chose the right play.

Puffs is an excellent parody. As all the excellent parodies, you’ll waste your time and your money on the show if you haven’t seen the Harry Potter movies several times. Hearing Oliver saying at the beginning of the third book of Puffs, "This is a weird year ! Even Dumbledore seems to be different," is only funny when we know that the actor who played Dumbledore was changed after the third movie. And this is just an exemple! "Puffs" goes into the details of Harry Potter; it means that you have to know the basics before going to see this play. Luckily for them, J.K Rowling sold 450 billion books all over the world. So they should be fine until the last performance.

"Puffs" is a must seen for all Harry Potter fans (or for anyone who hates the movies but who has seen them and wants to make fun of them). It’s a wonderful and entertnaining show for the Harry Potter generation, who all have the same codes, the same references and the same jokes. The writing, the cast, the direction and all the ingredients are there to make the perfect potion; to make you realize that you were maybe a Puff at school, but now, you can be proud to have been one.

 

 


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