Written by 12:39 am Cabrillo Playhouse, Review, San Clemente, Theater, Uncategorized

Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic @ Cabrillo Playhouse – Review

photo credit: Sarah Whitwell

Written by Alina Mae Wilson

I read the books, then I read them again, and having sufficiently memorized every word (or at the very least, the words from my favorite chapters), I dissected the plot with any willing participant within 50 yards. I went to all the movies and clutched the hands of loved ones as the famed theme began to play over the opening credits. My essential point: I am very familiar with the wonderful wizarding world of this series. Before I heard the Cabrillo Playhouse was putting on this particular show, I had already heard of PUFFS, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic. Initially, my response was something akin to “…Ok. Sounds mildly interesting. Not sure I needed someone to write this, but sure.” Well, Matt Cox felt moved to write it, and having seen it at the Cabrillo Playhouse, I am pleased he did. It starts as a goofy fanfiction of the Harry Potter films and ends on a wistful note that one might cherish as a poignant attribute of the human condition or shrugged off for the pleasure that poking fun at the movies for two hours might have brought.


The story follows an ordinary boy named Wayne Hopkins who is one day treated to some startling information about himself: he is a wizard. Wayne responds by attending a wonderful magic school, only to arrive at the sorting ceremony wondering about his importance and whether he has enough personality to be sorted. While some others are sorted into the Braves, the Snakes, and the Smarts, Wayne is sorted into what some consider the unattractive option–the Puffs. Over the next seven years, Wayne makes lifelong friends and witnesses/experiences catastrophic danger, introducing us to new characters and running across characters we know all too well.


Both the set and costumes for this show are great. With limited space, they made the environment enjoyable, attractive, and an obvious reference to the source material. Brightly colored doors adorned with vivid House mascots open and close to prevent us from feeling claustrophobic. While perhaps not elaborate, gray stones allude to the castle background viewers are familiar with and expect. The costumes are adequate, and even the cheesier aspects of what people wear are meant to elicit laughter (which they do).


I enjoyed the acting in this show very much. All the actors are strong and confident, and although there are undoubtedly well-known characters around, the perspective from which we view them is different enough to make them both familiar and new. And the script is casually funny sufficiently so that even when a certain performer breaks character to laugh at their scene, it’s campy enough that nothing is ruined. Part of the fun IS the ridiculousness. The other part is laughing at the jokes and poking fun at the films, so your chances of enjoying everything increase significantly if you have seen all the movies.

8.5 Overall
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Set & Design8.5
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Great Show! OCR Recommended!

June 3 – 25, 2023.

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