Spotlight Theatrical Company’s PUFFS is a hilarious magical romp through the familiar world of Hogwarts with a new twist. This show is incessantly optimistic and laugh-out-loud-funny with a cast that manages to soften even the most cynical of hearts.
Written by Matt Cox in 2015, PUFFS is a comedic reimagining of the world of Harry Potter told from the perspective of the ‘Puffs’. The show follows the journey of three young wizards sorted into the ‘Puffs’ house: nerdy, endearing, Wayne Hopkins; cynical, badass, Megen Jones; loyal, maths genius, Oliver Rivers. The trio form an unbreakable friendship and take on magical lessons, bullying and even fight in wizard battles over their seven years at Hogwarts in their quest to fit in and learn about who they truly are.
Directed by Mitchell Walsh, with Hayley Cox as Assistant Director, this production is absolutely perfectly executed from start to finish. Mitchell’s vision and passion for the world of the Puffs is clear from the very start. The staging is precise and allows the simple, optimistic message of this show to shine through. The scene where the Puffs watch Cedric’s battle under the lake is particularly outstanding. Mitchell’s direction manages to have his actors draw shrieks of laughter from the audience with almost complete silence.
The choreography designed by Hannah Crowther is wonderfully creative and brings the world of magic to life. Particularly in the final big battle scene where we see the Puffs battling the Death Buddies in every imaginable way. Staging and choreographing a magical battle on stage with limited resources in a community theatre production is not easy but Hannah’s choreography makes this possible and authentic.
The set design by Phillip Maas is simply stunning. The world of the Puffs is created using a number of doors, bookshelves with glowing candles and a big, colourful Puffs banner. The design draws the audience into the magical world of Hogwarts and it is beautiful.
The lighting design created by Jamie Watt supports the vision and direction of the show and lends itself to the world-building. Nick Willner’s, sound design is flawless and everything goes off without a hitch. The costumes designed by Millie Talbot are perfectly suited to the creative Puffs complete with a different Marvel Universe shirt for Wayne in each of the seven years.
Nathan French plays a believably innocent and optimistic, Wayne Hopkins. Nathan’s acting gives the show heart from beginning to end with a portrayal that is endearing and sincere. James Blee as Oliver Rivers starts the show as the nerdy, maths genius but grows immensely throughout. James is a fantastic actor who is able to showcase this character arc with authenticity.
As Megen Jones, Sarah Hunt is absolutely amazing and one of the standout performers of this production. Sarah is the perfect cynical, emo-girl who is able to bring out that glint of light and optimism in Megen when needed. Her aptitude for comedy is clear throughout this show.
Another standout performance is that of director, Mitchell Walsh, in the role of The Narrator. Mitchell’s portrayal makes The Narrator a real character that he audience feels a connection to. Mitchell’s comedic timing is excellent and this makes for great laughs. Bravo!
Alexander O’Connell is an extremely versatile actor who plays both Cedric and Mr. Voldy. His work on this production is outstanding. As Cedric, Alexander is straight-laced and hilariously innocent. As Mr. Voldy, he is a believable villain with a comedic twist that has the audience crying with laughter.
The show is supported by a fantastic ensemble cast that creates the unique Puffs. This includes fantastic performances by Hannah Crowther as Hannah, Millie Talbot as Sally Perks, Chelsea Doran as Susie Bones and Jayden Proctor as Ernie Mac.
Kristen Barrows provides a particularly memorable performance in her role as Leanne. Kristen is so committed to this character that she delivers some of the show’s funniest moments. Rory Schiele is another standout ensemble performance, especially as he doubles in the roles of both J.Finch Flecthley and the infamous Zac Smith.
Overall, Spotlight Theatrical Company’s production of PUFFS is a show not to be missed; especially for any Harry Potter fans. PUFFS challenges the audience to imagine this world from a different perspective and to find their inner child. It is absolutely hilarious but it also asks some pretty deep questions about loyalty, honesty, goodness and hard work.
PUFFS is playing now until 30 January 2022. Tickets are on sale here.