In the stage show Potted Potter, Daniel Clarkson and Scott Hoatson attempt to achieve the impossible: condense seven novels and 360 characters from the Harry Potter series into one 72-minute show – and all with just two actors. To pull it off, they need a little bit of magic.
The show cast spells over audiences during its most recent run in Hong Kong last month. Actors Clarkson and Hoatson breezed their way through endless hilarious prop and costume changes, and even had time for a highly entertaining game of Quidditch – one of the highlights of the play.
Young Post’s junior reporters were invited to join an exclusive Quidditch boot camp with Clarkson and Hoatson. We split into two teams – Gryffindor and Ravenclaw – and had to compete to get the quaffle through the hoop, all the while dodging chairs and each other.
It’s safe to say we weren’t quite as agile as Harry Potter on his broomstick.
After the match was over, we sat down with Clarkson and Hoatson to find out how they came to create such a unique show.
Clarkson explained that he first got into drama because he wasn’t very academic, and knew from a fairly early age that he wanted to be an actor – “or Batman”.
He appeared in a few police and crime dramas, but his first love was theatre, not TV. He decided if he wanted to be in a stage show, he should just write his own.
The idea of a Harry Potter parody came about when Clarkson was offered a job entertaining the crowds in London who were queuing up during the night to buy the sixth Potter book, The Half-blood Prince. He took the job, he said, because he was promised by the book store that he would be the first to get the new book.
And so, Potted Potter was born. From there, it didn’t take long for Clarkson to find Hoatson, whose humour made him a perfect fit for the show.
Of course, it wasn’t easy squeezing all seven Harry Potter books into one performance. At first, the pair tried to cram in too much, but later cut back, keeping in the key plot points and the things that made them laugh the most. The play focuses a lot on the dynamic between Harry and Voldemort – whom Clarkson can’t help but feel sorry for. “Because it must be tough if you’re a really powerful wizard, and this schoolboy just keeps beating you. It’s not good for your ego.”
The duo have their work cut out portraying so many characters from the franchise; Hoatson plays Harry, while Clarkson plays “every other character”.
“I’m literally running all over the stage with different hats and costumes for different characters,” said Clarkson. “I’m pretending to be all the characters and the whole show’s falling apart – but it’s very funny!”
Still, they’ve never wanted a bigger cast, explaining that they both enjoyed using the joke premise that they were meant to have lots of actors, but spent their budget on the dragon from the fourth Potter book instead.
Performing live on stage brings its own set of challenges, especially when each audience is different. But as Clarkson explains, this gives the pair room to improvise each night.
“When we play Quidditch with the audience, we have no idea what’s going to happen!”
Staying relevant is also important, so Clarkson and Hoatson try to include a lot of different pop culture references in the play. Clarkson said that for their shows in Hong Kong, they tried to mention mooncakes, the Dragon Boat Festival, and Typhoon Mangkhut.
“We were actually very excited about the typhoon. You guys must have them all the time, but we’re here going, ‘wow’! The worst thing we’ve got back in England is a squirrel!”
So what does J.K. Rowling herself think of the show? It turns out, the author came to the first show the pair did in Edinburgh, Scotland, but it was already sold out. Unfortunately, the person at the door didn’t recognise Rowling, and turned her away.
“So now we hold one seat anywhere we go,” said Clarkson. “So if she shows up, there’s a seat for her.”