Spontaneous Potter, created by the Spontaneous Players, takes a title from the audience (“Harry Potter and the…”) and skilfully creates an hour-long, brand new Harry Potter story from it. For the improv virgins or disbelievers out there, I can safely say from seven years of improv-watching experience that yes, it is all made up on the spot. Seriously.
A silly and raucously fun production that will tickle the fancy of any Potterhead
This is a play very much designed for Potterheads; the more you know, the more you get out of it. The performance I saw used the audience title of “The Convenient Plot Device” to explore the mystery of the cursed pitchfork, rocketing through romance, battles and a staff piss-up. What interests me about this particular production is that, unlike most improv shows, it uses pre-established characters to form its narrative. At first this felt like a bit of a cop-out as it seemed to require less work from the actors. However, it actually added a new layer of comedy as well-known Potter legends are impersonated, embarrassed and manipulated for our delight. The actors’ strong knowledge of the Wizarding World also allowed them to wittily comment on its flaws and inconsistencies, such as its transport and health systems. The actors were also not afraid to point out the plot holes in their own story, grilling each other about how the elements of their tale fitted together.
The comedy was particularly effective when the cast drew attention to the fact that they were improvising, changing roles on stage or making each other recite rhyming couplets on the spot. It was gratifying to see them enjoy this process so much, but it also led to a little too much corpsing which got in the way of the performance at times. The piano accompaniment, using tunes from the Potter films, was effective in maintaining the right atmosphere for each scene, though could have had a more active role in enhancing the narrative.
This is a silly and raucously fun production that will tickle the fancy of any Potterhead who doesn’t mind seeing their favourite franchise played for laughs. It is unsurprising that is has sold out almost every show.