Simone Eclair is a Brisbane comedian and writer. Weekly lols and gigs at www.facebook.com/simone.eclair
A sideways look at the Potterverse
Loosely based on the Unplotted Potter show that was a hit at the Adelaide Fringe festival last year, ImproMafia decided to take on the Potterverse full on with their Potter Unplotted show as part of the Brisbane Comedy Festival 2017 at the Powerhouse.
ImproMafia have established themselves as the best known of the impro groups in Brisbane and with a subject so adored as the fruits of JK Rowling's imagination, there's no-one better to ensure it was going to be worthwhile.
To ensure the performers didn't go too wildly off the tracks, the show began with the selection of the Supreme Mugwump. For those unfamiliar with what a Supreme Mugwump is (i.e. everyone), this person was given a tankard to clang whenever they witnessed something that would make no sense in the Potterverse. This didn't mean that the performers couldn't make things up, but if someone decided that Harry's twin brother Malcolm Turnbull was in town, then the Mugwump would clang and the performer would be forced to revise their nonsense.
When I say nonsense, of course, I mean nonsense. The entire show post-introduction was completely improvised in long form, each scene progressing on from the last with nothing rehearsed and nothing prepared beforehand.
The Mugwump was chosen by means of a quiz given to a select few who had been chosen on entry to perform in the competition. Scott Driscoll barked questions from the stage at the audience until only one person remained and was crowned Mugwump. After a brief stretching exercise led by the sleazy Quidditch teacher portrayed by Steven Morgan, the performers were announced to the stage.
The audience picked names from a 'Goblet of Fire' to find out what side character in the Harry Potter series would become the focus of the show. It was explained that these weren't major characters, but rather bit players who had barely a moment in the series itself. It was to be like an improvised Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Harry Potter style.
Three names were picked and based on audience reaction to their description, one was to be chosen as the subject of the show. The runaway winner receiving a deafening cheer before her name was even read for the second time was without doubt Irma Pince, the unpleasant librarian.
What followed was a tale far funnier and more coherent than it had any right to be. The plot veered wildly around Irma's life, though seemed more focused on a pair of goblins determined to rid the world of all wizards than Irma's love of books. Brittany White and Ryan Goodwin were so convincing as goblins you had to remind yourself that they were actually human at some points. Tom Dunstan's performance was so strong that his Lord Flashheart reminiscent character Thunderthighs felt vital despite having very little to do with anything.
The true highlight was the series of wizards dying from sitting on 'poisoned sofas' as the performers scrambled to play inanimate chairs as the scene demanded. Luke Rimmelzwaan took this to another level as he walked around a room undecided as to which seat to sit on as the other performers scrambled to 'play' his chair. It's a ridiculous concept that would be hard to justify scripted, but in the spur of the moment was so funny as to leave you in tears. All the while Drew Lochrie's blossoming romance as Argus Filch with Amy Currie's portrayal of Irma kept the plot going along.
By the time Irma had transformed from a kind hearted person to a bitter librarian as side effects of the goblin poisoning, you were sad it was over. As with any comedy show, it's better to end on a high than to draw things out longer than they need to be. With every show being completely different as is the way with impro, if it weren't sold out, I'd be tempted to go again.