What’s On has details of Potted Potter in Dubai at Ductac in Mall Of The Emirates, which tells the Harry Potter story – all seven books – in 70 minutes.

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Whereas the Harry Potter movies starred hundreds of actors, a theatre show based on the hit books uses just two to tell the whole story. The tiny cast of Potted Potter isn’t due to budget restrictions (although the accountants must be happy at such a small wage bill) – it’s where the comedy comes from. The hit play that’s delighted audiences in New York and London tells JK Rowling’s wizard saga at lightning fast speed, with a dizzying number of costume changes and numerous character switches. The two actors trying to keep the action under control are James Percy and Benjamin Stratton.

Potted Potter must be an exhausting show to perform – mentally and physically?
Benjamin Stratton: Physically, yes. I don’t stop running around changing wigs and hats for 70 minutes, so doing two or three shows a day is a killer. James has the majority of the lines, so he’s more mentally exhausted than me by the end.
James Percy: It is pretty intense. There’s a lot of improvisation in there. We always start and end in the same place, but how we get there varies from show to show. It keeps it fresh.

Learning how to switch from character to character must have been incredibly difficult?
JP: I’ve got the easy job of playing just one character, Harry. It’s Ben who has the tough job, as he plays everybody else. His Hermione is my favourite character. If you thought Emma Watson was pretty, wait until you see Ben – it’s something to behold.
BS: We change a lot of wigs, hats and props rather than full costumes. In my very first show in Dublin I mistakenly wore the Ron wig on stage for about 40 minutes without realising.

How many characters each do you play?
BS: I’ve never actually stopped to count. There are about 300 characters in the Harry Potter series, but luckily I don’t play all of them, just the fan favourites like Voldemort, Hagrid and Ron.

Which character transition is the hardest?
BS: During book five I change character every three seconds. I run off as Sirius Black, then come back on as all of the Weasleys, then run off again – that goes on for about seven minutes.

Have any of the cast from the Potter films seen the show?
JP: I remember one night we were performing Potted Potter in Edinburgh. A woman walked into the theatre and tried to buy a ticket but the show was sold out and so she was turned away. A few minutes later the theatre manager said to the girl behind the ticket counter, “I think JK Rowling just walked past me outside.” We always keep one spare seat now – just in case.


September 17 to 21
Ductac, Mall Of The Emirates, Dubai, Wed to Sun 7pm, Fri and Sat 3pm and 7pm, Dhs150. Tel: (04) 3414777. Metro: Mall Of The Emirates. ductac.org