Daniel Clarkson and Jeff Turner can tell the entire story of Harry Potter in 70 minutes, but can they keep all the details straight? We put them to the test.
Much like heart attack–inducing burgers and pounds of poutine, there’s something about a seven-part epic of magic, destiny, and good vs. evil that just begs to be ingested in a fast-paced, sweat-soaked binge. Affable Brits Daniel Clarkson and Jeff Turner are trying to achieve this with Harry Potter, by condensing the seven-book series into a 70-minute play. Their West End hit is called Potted Potter — The Unauthorised Harry Experience — A Parody by Dan and Jeff. Previews start in Toronto tomorrow at the Panasonic Theatre.
“When the fifth book came out, I was still waiting in the bookshop, in the queue, at midnight, with my cape on. I was hooked from the beginning,” said Clarkson. “We’re definitely, definitely nerds,” Turner added.
And with hit runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, and in London, Australia, and New Zealand, they’re obviously not alone. Perhaps to appease anyone who doesn’t share in the the Harry enthusiasm, the play freely references other fantasy favourites.
But having so thoroughly combined all those made-up worlds, can Turner and Clarkson still keep them straight? We quizzed them with a series of nouns from Harry Potter, Narnia, and The Lord of the Rings. The results were, let’s say, mixed.
Turner: That is Harry Potter.
TOist: It is!
Turner: Bam! [To Clarkson] High five! All the rest are yours.
Clarkson: We’ll say Lord of the Rings.
Turner: She’s done the other two. Let’s take the gamble.
Clarkson: Is it Narnia?
TOist: No, it’s Lord of the Rings. Radhaghast the Brown.
Turner: Well, that’s Pirates of the Caribbean.… Is it Narnia?
TOist: It is!
Clarkson: Oh god, that’s Lord of the Rings–esque.
Turner: We don’t not want to get a Potter one. I don’t think it’s Potter.
Clarkson: Is it Lord of the Rings?
TOist: It’s Potter.
Both: [Gasp] NO!
TOist: It’s one of the prisons.
Turner: There will be people out there disappointed in us, but that is a tough one. Phew.
Turner: That sounds like a spell. That’s Harry Potter.
TOist: It is, but it’s one of the corpses that’s under Voldemort’s power.
Turner: Oh, of course.
Clarkson: Is one of the words “Hermione”? Because I can tell you that’s from Twilight.
TOist: Cirith Ungol
Turner: Lord of the Rings always has two names.
Clarkson: Okay, just say it.
Turner: Is it Lord of the Rings?
TOist: It is! It’s a tower.
Clarkson: That’s Harry Potter.
Turner: Stop shouting out!
Clarkson: He’s in the cupboard.
TOist: You’re thinking of a boggart.
Clarkson: I’m thinking of a boggart.
TOist: They’re from Narnia: they’re goblin-like followers of the White Witch.
TOist: Ignotus, Cadmus, and Antioch
Turner: It sounds like it’s not Potter, which means it probably is. It sounds very Narnia and very Lord of the Rings.
Clarkson: Very Monty Python.
Turner: I’m gonna let you have this one. I won’t blame you.
Clarkson: Lord of the Rings?
TOist: It’s Harry Potter.
Turner: I said it was Harry Potter!
TOist: They’re the three Peverell brothers.
Clarkson: Oh, of course.
Turner: A bit late. A bit late for the “Of course.”
Turner: That’s like a fairy folk.
Clarkson: At least we know what it is.
Turner: Unless it’s a sword or something.
TOist: Yes! They’re woodland folk.
Turner: Ah, well, I come out smug. I may not know about Harry Potter, but I know about fairies.
Clarkson: That’s a bird.
Turner: Yeah, I’ve got a jackdaw in my backyard. All three of them borrow from real life. We’ve got to use logic for this one. How often does Lord of the Rings do that?
Clarkson: Not as much. And I would like to think Rowling is more clever than that. But in Narnia it could actually be a jackdaw.
Turner: Let’s go with that. We’ll go with Narnia.
TOist: It is Narnia.
TOist: Old Toby
Turner: It just sounds like a guy in the corner of a bar nursing a glass of rum.
Clarkson: I honestly think it could be Potter.
Turner: Your call, man.
Clarkson: Is it Harry Potter?
TOist: Lord of the Rings. It’s a form of weed found in the Shire.
Turner: It could be a plant in Harry Potter from the Herbology classes.
Clarkson: Let’s say Potter.
TOist: It’s from Narnia.
Clarkson: It’s because you called us nerds—we wanted to play it down.
Turner: The last show we did was in August, so it’s time to brush up again.
In fact, “Imperius” is a Harry Potter spell; an “Inferius” is the corpse under Voldemort’s power. Score one more for Dan and Jeff!