Saturday, May 13, 2023



PUFFS by Matt Cox.

Directed by Jordan Best. Assitant Director Callum Doherty. Stage Manager Brittany Myers. ASM Amelia Chittick. Set design John Nicholls. Costume design Jessica Dickie. Lighting design Jacob Aquilina. Props design Imogen Thomas Composer Glenn Gore Phillips. Tech consultant Zac Harvey. Operator Operator Joel Edmondson Puppets Jens Nordstrom. Choreography (Good) Jody Hammond and Sally Taylor. Choreography (Bad) Jordan Best. Magic Callum in a Morph Suit Makeup consultant Lee Powles. Backstage Badgers Toby Silberman and Eve Perry. The Q. Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre. May 11 – 20 2023. Bookings:  02 62856290

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins


Director Jordan Best sums up her production of Matt Cox’s Harry Potter parody in her Director’s Notes. I am going to quote it verbatim. “On reflection, you’d have to be insane to undertake this play. There are too many characters, too many props, too many costumes and lighting cues and sound effects and magic tricks.” That’s true. Add to that that the play with a twenty minute interval ran for almost three hours and you have a huge, almost unachievable challenge to hurl at Echo Youth Theatre’s young, but hugely energetic , enthusiastic and as it turns out talentedactors. I have also listed the entire creative team, because too often the unseen forces performing their particular brand of magic are not acknowledged. And to bring this stage does require a certain degree of theatrical magic.

None of this detracts from the fact that the production is too long for a far more experienced cast, let alone members of a youth theatre. I quaked at the thought that after the matinee I attended with my grandsons they had to do a 7.30 show which would not end until 10 p.m. And yet, I guarantee that their fun with the play and their absolute commitment to their parts would sustain them through the evening. It is to the credit of Jordan Best that her exuberance and sharply honed directorial skill gave every character a distinctive voice and personality.

Kara Taylor as The Narrator in PUFFS

It is not easy to follow the events that take place over the seven years that the Puffs, students of the alternative school for female magic and male magic, attempt to find the success that the Hogwarts students attain. Kara Taylor helps us out as the very affable Narrator, although I would have likes her to have been miked to lend her character a certain presence.  Instead of Harry, Hermione and Ron we have Wayne (Nick Dyball), Megan (Olivia Boddington) and Oliver (James Morgan). Writer Cox has spuna convoluted tale of struggles, failures, battles between our heroes and the Dark Lord and his dead  minions . In a rite of passage our brave threesome must overcome the challenges faced to the death by the school’s favourite pupil Cedric (William Best). But all they have to fear is fear itself and  death and a dragon and the dark Lord. In a final battle Death is the conqueror and we are left at the end to ponder the wise words of Professor Lanny (Emma Richards) that Love is the real magic. Funnily enough, in spite of everything that Oliver and Megan have gone through and it’s a lot they are still happy to send their child off at the end to carry on the noble Puffs tradition.

Janes MOrgan as Oliver and Nick Dyball as Wayne

It really is quite silly, and I am left trying to make sense of the very circuitous journey through the seven years. In the end, however, it is Best’s inventive business, the blend of choreography, farcical chases and  ridiculous characters that give rise to the  triumphant victory of the underdog and the outcast over failure and ridicule. The youthful ensemble scale the heights of Cox’s parody. In less capable hands this could have conjured up a cauldron of tedium. It is the performances that have been so cleverly and imaginatively brought to life that make Puffs an excellent choice for Echo Youth Theatre. I look forward to seeing young actors of this calibre tackling very different material that challenges audiences as well as the actors. 

Best has created an excellent ensemble, who have risen to the challenge with a spirit of fun and zestful characterization . They all deserve a mention. Joining Taylor, Boddington, Dyball and Morgan are Darcy Gowland, Alicia Kaufman, Arabella Krippner, Juniper Potter. William Best, Breanna Kelly, Emma Richards, Sally Taylor, Grace Jasinski, Zoe Ross and Gemma Rose Hewitson. It’s a long show that held my nine year old grandsons’ interest and enjoyment throughout. You too will be impressed by the cast’s talents for drama, comedy and magic. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll love Puffs. If you’re not, you’ll enjoy Puffs and if you really want to know what is happening let Wikipedia tell you the synopsis to Puffs. After all there is a Puff in all of us.

William Best as Cedric and the Cast of PUFFS