‘Welcome home Dan & Jeff’: POTTED PANTO – Garrick Theatre ★★★★

In Comedy, London theatre, Opinion, Pantomimes, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

Garrick Theatre, London – until 11 January 2021

They’re at it again. And in this dour year, crowned with the financially reckless renaissance of West End theatre, Dan and Jeff – Daniel Clarkson and Jeff Turner – are welcome home to the daytime West End. Their Potted Potter assault on the Rowling canon in 80 minutes got a thumbs up from the actual New York Times, their two-handed Potter absurdism pleased the Rowlingites no end, and long years ago a Christmas-jaded Times critic (me) called an earlier incarnation of this 70-minute lark: “Cheap, cheerful, deafening if you’re surrounded by ten-year-olds, but not dumb.”

It’s actually polished up better in this season of compulsorily half-empty houses and scrupulous virus-bashing. Nor is there any truth in the  rumour that panto whooping, shouting and jumping in the seats would be banned in favour of silent hi-fives and the like for our welfare.

There’s a fair bit of audience racket, though it never felt worrying – given the distanced seats and the fact that the noisiest were plainly family bubbles some distance away. The shtick is the same – bossy Jeff, irresponsible Dan, lightning change of costume bits, cracker-jokes and the clever debunking of same, plus a couple of startling extras, puppets and bits of unexpected set to keep it going.

Attempting six panto stories in the time is the idea, while Dan demands A Christmas Carol be included and forces Ebenezer Scrooge onto Abanazar of Aladdin; they bring in ghost-gags, roarings of ‘oh yes it is’, a brief but wicked front row involvement and some very funny new ways of waking Sleeping Beauty. There’s snow, and a songsheet, and just enough Boris-Covid-distancing gags (the pair are a bubble, thank goodness).

And I was charmed to see how hilarious even quite small children find the repeated appearance of Dan’s Hooray-Henry interpretation of Prince Charming, thrilled with himself and bored of princesses.

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Libby Purves
Libby Purves was theatre critic for The Times from 2010 to 2013. Determined to continue her theatre commentary after losing that job, she set up her own site www.theatrecat.com in October 2013. She personally reviews all major London openings, usually with on-the-night publication, and also gives voice to a new generation of critics with occasional guest 'theatrekittens'. In addition to her theatre writing and myriad other credits, Libby has been a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Midweek for over 30 years. She is also the author of a dozen novels, and numerous non-fiction titles. In 1999, Libby was appointed an OBE for services to journalism.
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Libby Purves on RssLibby Purves on Twitter
Libby Purves
Libby Purves was theatre critic for The Times from 2010 to 2013. Determined to continue her theatre commentary after losing that job, she set up her own site www.theatrecat.com in October 2013. She personally reviews all major London openings, usually with on-the-night publication, and also gives voice to a new generation of critics with occasional guest 'theatrekittens'. In addition to her theatre writing and myriad other credits, Libby has been a presenter on BBC Radio 4’s Midweek for over 30 years. She is also the author of a dozen novels, and numerous non-fiction titles. In 1999, Libby was appointed an OBE for services to journalism.

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