Holroyd Musical & Dramatic Society: Puffs - Review by Jordan Anderson
Hi!!! In a world of Snakes, Braves, and Smarts, why not be a Puff? We have loyalty, we have friendship, and most importantly, Badgers! There is more to this story of a certain boy wizard, and this production of Puffs than meets the eye. Holroyd Musical & Dramatic Society have come together to put on a hilarious and heartfelt production that will have you chanting ‘third or nothing’ and ‘please be our friend’ all the way home.
For those not in the know, Puffs tells the story of seven increasingly eventful years at a certain school of magic and magic, but from the eyes of the outsiders, the Puffs. Those adjacent to the action but yet somehow always dealing with the drama of another hero’s problems. But the hero of one story is not always the hero of the other, and so we fade in on another orphan, Wayne. Whisked away from his Uncle Dave in Australia and to this particular British Boarding School, Wayne meets his best friends for life, Oliver and Megan. Along with this silver trio, we meet Wayne’s other classmates, basically the best Ernie Mac, the late-to-the-party Hannah, the happy-go-lucky J Finch Fletchley, lovable Leanne, Sally Perks (she goes there), Susie Bones who’s just happy to be alive, and the leader, the charismatic Cedric Diggory. Rounding out the cast is the wonderful narrator succinctly telling the story and keeping us on track from all the ensuing chaos. I’m not going to say too much more, but it’s a great show for not only fans of the original work but also those who have no idea what’s going on.
From the second you walk into the Redgum Theatre, it’s obvious that an incredible amount of love and passion has gone into this production with the creation of a warm and cosy house common room. It’s these little details that really make each Holroyd show feel special, a true testament to the community feeling the committee has tried hard to foster. This is really a clever use of space, and it blends into a lovely set design, utilizing four doors and some excellent lighting states by Matthew Lutz. Combined with clever staging and astute use of props by the cast, it allows the story to move along at a lightning pace.
As a true ensemble show, Puffs uses fast dialogue and witty callbacks to create a non-stop barrel of laughs and a truly moving performance. To achieve this, though, it requires a cast with impeccable comedic timing and some serious acting chops, which they deliver in spades. It would be wrong of me to single out any specific actors, as they all truly left it all on the stage, and the chemistry between them was electrifying. That being said, I do think a few callouts are in order.
The Narrator, played by Amelia Green, controlled the show with a tight fist, pulling back the curtain on what was happening, so to say, and granting us all the chance to enjoy the many in-jokes that permeate the story. Her dialogue was delivered at lightning speed, and her energy was infectious and lifted the entire ensemble.
Also, a complete standout was Matthew Dorahy as Wayne, our beloved hero in this story. His journey from the young boy dreaming of being the hero of the story (and a lightsaber) through to his acceptance of just being Wayne was beautiful to watch. He truly captured that youthful exuberance and wonder of learning magic, and no spoilers, but it balanced perfectly with the finale of his story.
Rounding out Wayne’s Silver Trio are Patrick Humphrey as Oliver Rivers and Michelle Suwandy as Megan Jones. These two actors worked excellently together, providing a slightly more human element to the rest of the craziness in the show. I was a particular fan of Megan’s struggle to find where she belongs as she constantly tries to reinvent her image year after year.
This is not to take away from the rest of the cast, who were so well-suited to their respective roles and absolutely hilarious in all their various characters and moments. Fiona Brennan played Leanne with absolute sincerity in all her manic ditziness, absolutely lovable, and you cheered for her every win. Tamsyn Willey played Susie Bones and Harry and was an absolute firecracker, in two very different characters and interpretations. Iluka Adams, Peter David Allison, and Natalie Reid played Sally Perks, Ernie Mac, and Hannah Abbott, with a lovely charm helping round out the ensemble of Puffs and having some of the funniest lines in the show (which is hard, when everything is already so funny). And finally, we have Lizzie Wilson and Annastasia Denton as Cedric Diggory and J. Finch Fletchley. These two talented actresses attacked their roles with great aplomb and brought huge energy to the stage. Lizzie as Cedric with Wayne brought a lovely emotional moment in the first act.
Seriously, I cannot recommend this show enough, for fans and non-fans alike. Holroyd and the entire production should feel incredibly proud of how they came all together (Puffs emergency formation #7) and put on a heartfelt, funny, and most importantly incredibly joyful production. While not perfect, neither are the Puffs, and that's what’s important; this show thoroughly deserves four and a half drunk butterbeers.