Review by Liz Eichler Of “Puffs”: Know Theatre
If you grew up with Harry Potter (I’m talking to you Gens X, Y, and Z and your parents!) then “Puffs” at Know Theatre is a MUST SEE!
The full title of the play is “PUFFS or seven increasingly eventful years at a certain school of magic and magic” (Two Act Edition). Written in 2016 by Matt Cox and enjoying a 3 year award-winning off-Broadway run, this production, directed by Cincinnati’s own perennial boy wizard, Andrew Hungerford, is a perfect place to bring your whole gang of friends (but not young kids). Thank you, Know, for such a delightful gift!
“Puffs” refers to “Hufflepuffs,” the most ignored house of a certain school of magic. The students are not brave, nor smart, nor snake-y, but they are nice and caring and, well, everybody else. We focus in on Wayne, and his new friends, who witness HP bringing chaos to a school, and they too want to show they are brave, or at least stay out of the way. There are some sweet moments, as the stories are replaying at breakneck speed, but this retelling is mostly for laughs—from smiles to huge, hysterical, gut busting laughter.
Here are 7 increasingly persuasive reasons to conjure up a group to see this show:
1–All things Harry Potter, duh
2–“It’s Not Butter Beer” partnership with Listermann Brewing for your intermission and pre-show pleasure
3–Fast-paced action and one-liners summing up chapters in a glance, from the books, movies, and the lives of the actors. The writing and direction make these two hours fly by as fast as a Holyhead Harpie player.
4–Dragons and dragon eggs, and a whole range of magical props including wands (!), a 12-foot-long scroll of jinxes (read them! “Eating Lunch Alonus” and more!). Costume (Noelle Wedig-Johnston), Scenery (Baron E. Pugh) and Lighting (Andrew Hungerford) all Exceed Expectations. The scenery includes a wonderfully painted wall (all exteriors), which opens onto a magical portrait hall serving as all interior spaces with the help of rolling set pieces, secret doors, and your imagination.
5–Secondary characters brought to life, all packed into a tight ensemble of talented comedic performers, on N.E.W.T.-Levels of Timing and Physical skills. Elizabeth Chinn Molloy (Hannah and more) is a contortionist of characters and comedy; she knows when an eyebrow or a leg kick works. Jordan Trovillion brings a twinkle to oblivious Harry and doomed Susie Bones. Brianna Bernard (Sally Perks and more) provides a heart-wrenching house elf and more. Maggie Cramer (Leanne and more) has us empathizing with the magically challenged who just wanna have slumber parties. Andrew Ian Adams (Cedric and Voldy) shows the charisma to lead a group desperate to be followers. Jared Earland is Ernie Mac, Second Headmaster (“Year 3: the headmaster looks different”), and brings many, many others to life. Maliyah Gramata-Jones as an angsty Megan Jones; Brandon Burton as math whiz and nice guy Oliver Rivers. Merritt Beischel leads us as through the 7 years, setting the tone of this parody. Ben Dudley as Wayne Hopkins pulls you into the story, also an orphaned wizard, but he’s more of a lost puppy—you just have to love him.
6–Chris Wesselman. His performances as J. Finch Fletchey, Zach Smith and others win the House Cup. But also bring the show to a PG 13 rating. (#JFinchApproved)
7–After all, isn’t having a good time with your friends, enjoying precious memories and making new ones, what the holidays are all about? We all grew up with Harry Potter, as a parent or a kid. This show packs as much warm fuzzies as gut-busting laughter, with a few doses of somberness thrown in.
A production this good, at this time of year, will sell out. Be Head Boy or Girl of your group of friends and family and call 513-300-5669 (KNOW) today. (Plan to sit up front for this interactive show!)
*Based on a Magical School of Wizardry.