I am a massive Harry Potter fan. I’m not just talking about watching all the films and spin off films, but I have seen the symphony orchestra concerts, have read all the books including the Cursed Child script, am currently playing Hogwarts Mystery on my phone, have cosplayed in Hogwarts robes and even successfully organised a Harry Potter themed flashmob parade in the city. So, when I heard about Puffs coming to Melbourne, I leaped at the opportunity to see it.
‘Puffs or Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic’ is a Harry Potter Off-Broadway comedy play all about the Hufflepuff students that were around for the same seven years that Harry Potter attended. We follow characters Megan, Wayne and Oliver as they try to survive the growing pains of adolescence whilst also trying to succeed in their studies at magic school. Megan is a student who believes that she has been sorted into the wrong house, Wayne is an untalented and extremely ordinary Australian import, and Oliver is a math whiz but a less than average wizard.
With a cast of only eleven, rotating and working the stage at any given time, the troupe are extremely professional, have comic timing and are insanely talented. Some even possessing multiple roles. My favourites include a very affectionate Dark Lord, a student named Cedric with boundless amounts of swagger and a very serious yet sassy potions professor.
I attended this production with a Hufflepuff who had only seen the films, but he still understood all the jokes and laughed for most of the production. You don’t have to had read all the books or seen all the films to appreciate this play, but it helps and is clearly penned to appeal to the excessive Potterhead.
There are two different forms of this play; during matinees the play is more child friendly, whereas the evening performances are crass and are aimed at those who grew up reading about the boy who lived. I attended an evening performance and would highly recommend seeing this version. The only reason I didn’t give a standing ovation at the end was because my sides hurt from laughing so much. From the moment you enter the theatre, you are taken on an immersive experience, as the theatre is decorated to look like the famed magical school with paintings, books and even a ‘restricted section’ if you pay attention enough. The humour is impeccable, even if you’re not really the kind of person that goes to see comedy gigs, there is no denying that Puffs is hilarious.
The story of Harry Potter may already be known, but the story of the Puffs is not, and the way playwright Matt Cox tells this story with an Aussie spin for Australian audiences, whilst also successfully dodging trademark landmines is pure genius. I am not a Hufflepuff, but after watching this production, I really wish I was cool as one. Puffs is honestly one of the best plays I have ever seen and I would absolutely go again in a heartbeat.
‘Puffs’ is to ‘Harry Potter’ what ‘Wicked’ is to ‘The Wizard of Oz’. It is still the tale of students from that famed magical school during the seven dramatic years of You-Know-Who’s power struggle but shown from a different point of view. Oh, and it’s fucking amazing.
Puffs has made its international debut in Australia and is currently playing at the Alex Theatre in St Kilda, Melbourne, but only for a limited time until July 8. Tickets are available now via Ticketek. Photo by Ben Fon.