Written by Patrick Chavis
Harry Potter is one of the top, if not the top, best-selling fantasy books of all time. It’s a story people of all ages know. Puffs utilizes nostalgia and the preexisting story structure of the Harry Potter series to weave a smaller and slightly less epic tale about the lives of average students attending Hogwarts School of Wizardry. Think of them as the crew members on Star Trek who were never named or, better yet, as the nameless extras seen in the Harry Potter movies. Now there’s a play all about them. Alchemy Theatre Company presents: Puffs at STAGESTheatre in Fullerton. It’s a theatrical feast with an excellent cast, charming story. and non-stop comedy for two hours. This is quality theatre at community theatre prices. More than that – it’s magical!
Puffs follows Wayne, played by Kyle Slayton, an orphaned boy who discovers he’s a wizard. Since there exists a prophecy about an orphaned kid who is the chosen one, Wayne believes he could be this savior figure until he finds out the prophecy is actually about another kid named Harry Potter. When Wayne discovers he is not the chosen one, he goes on a journey of self-discovery to figure out how he can contribute to the world.
From my perspective Puffs stays rather consistent with the rules of the Harry Potter Universe. It’s a fun story, well-paced and has a cute lesson about not always having to be the main character or perfect in order to do good and be important. Using the template of books one through seven, the play is able to take advantage of the nostalgia factor but also keep the narrative on track.
The Alchemy Theatre Company went all out with the set. The 4 doors are all decorated in the colors of the four Harry Potter houses: Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff and Slytherin, and the floor is decorated to look like a strong, stone floor.
There’s plenty of magic used throughout the show, and it’s utilized in very clever ways to tell the story. Simple tricks such as turning the lights on and off allowed for some very funny magical moments. The direction and production put into Puffs are of high quality. I’m thoroughly impressed with the detail and love put into this production.
Aaron Duncan-Schwartz plays Cedric Diggory and would make Robert Pattinson proud. Also, his impression of Voldemort – the main villain in Harry Potter – is a riot. Schwartz’s comfort level around the audience and his delivery are real highlights in this production.
Lydia Margitza plays multiple characters — including an oblivious Harry Potter and Susie Bones.
However, my favorite character was Sally Perks as played by Brittany Cotter. She’s a practically blind but passionate witch and somewhat of a love interest for Wayne.
While being a Harry Potter fan or having some knowledge of the books or movies will undoubtedly improve your viewing experience, the show is funny even without knowing much about the series.
If you understand there is a world of wizards in danger, there’s a hero named Harry Potter but this story is not about him but the other (normally bit-part) characters around him, you’re ready to enjoy the comedy of Puffs.
Some of the characters have dirty mouths, so be aware there is some bad language spoken during the show.
Puffs is a great example of Alchemy Theatre Company’s strong understanding of how to put on a fantastic comedy.