What's it about?
Some people are born with their entire future laid out ahead of them. Their life is destined to be filled with adventure, rewards, and the vanquishing of evil. They are also destined to be surrounded by a cast of side characters that people spend years writing fan fiction about after the stories end. This is one such fan fiction.
A.K.A The 7 years of Harry Potter through the eyes of house Hufflepuff.
What I experienced?
Book One: Puffs and the Moderately Moderate-At-Best Prologue
Finding the Elektra Theater was harder than I first anticipated, so let me dedicate this right here to anybody who would possibly find themselves on their way to this Wacky, Wild, Windy location. So, in walking down along "scenic" 8th avenue, I spotted a very large marquee that displayed, of all things, the logo for Puffs! Immediate assumption? That's the spot. So I approach. I see double doors with windows flanking it. Inside is a staircase, junk, and a chained bicycle. Nothing else. It takes until a couple go past and tug on the locked doors that I realize that this isn't it.
The entrance is actually a small, normal sized door around the corner from that on 43rd. Who'da thunk it?
Puffs actually shares a theater floor with Drunk Shakespeare, and it was entertaining watching mostly the people going into that show getting hammered at the bar.
Book Two: Puffs and the Atmosphere Underwhelming yet Impressive
Walking into the smallish theater for Puffs was a whole other trip. There are these subtle wire contraptions hanging from the ceiling. They each support these little fake candles and the candles seem to float. The walls are all meant to look like these thick red drapes that you could push right past (you can't, it's a wall). The proper light bulbs are these torches pushing out from the (not) curtains.
I noticed all of this after seeing the front. To give you the greatest idea of the show's tone - they use a public school projector, you know:
Yeah, I got your 7th grade aesthetic right here, grandpa.
And an artist's rendering of a badger, Hogwarts™, and the word PUFFS are projected against the curtain.
Book Three: Puffs and These Chapters Are Just Blazing On By
Let's get real for a second, does anybody actually have any real, note-worthy things to say about the third book in the Harry Potter series? Besides learning about the relationships of some characters, learning about some new locations, and a litany of puns that came out of the name Sirius Black, can anyone find for me any major significance to the book?
Book Four: Puffs and A Discussion On Being At Puffs
Now we're cooking with grease. To be honest, I can't think of more than maybe two points where I wasn't dying of laughter, choking on laughter, or missing a scene because I was wiping tears from my eyes. The characters were all so fantastic, and the way they poked fun at the "mess" that the Harry Potter books can be had me rolling. I want to talk so much about the comedy, but I refuse to spoil a single joke.
They have this crazy amount of puppetry and props that only exist for one-off jokes, but it's all just a hilarious look at the failure of the Hufflepuffs. I was furiously jotting down notes throughout the play in my little Hufflepuff notebook.
The show really plays off the fact (and hope) that the people in the audience know what happens in Harry Potter. I can affirm, however, that one only needs the most cursory knowledge of Harry Potter.
Book Five: Puffs and a Midway Confession of the Article Author
Okay, cards on the table. Never read the Harry Potter books, can't even call myself much of a fan. I know (most of) the movies and all the major plot beats, but that's about it.
I needed to confess, I can't keep lying to the readers!
Book Six: Puffs and the Seriously Hushed Tone
I'll admit that this may be just
plowing it's way through my soul. I'll also confess that this wasn't something that I thought about only during the show, but something I'd thought about all day leading up to the show.
I'm not going to stall you up on this section, right? See, my faith was crippled after a series of deaths a long while back. I find it hard believing in much of anything anymore. I don't really believe in God, despite how often I tell people to find the Lord Jeeeeeeeeezus. I find myself constantly swallowed by this sea of decaying thoughts. The illogical nature of heaven and my future and my own ability. I can never really believe in anything good, otherwise I just find myself stumbling and crumbling over myself.
So when I see a show like Puffs, and I find myself transported back to that early time in the 2000s, when I found myself so enthralled by the first Harry Potter film, blown out of my seat by the latest Pixar film. It was a jolt to my system in reminding me that having beliefs and faith can come from anything, the only important caveat being that you can't prove it's existence. Well, I believe in fairies and gnomes and mythical corgi-horses, and that there is some kind of ever-flowing magical essence in the air. I believe that if you really look for it, you'll find it. And I believe that the first step to really finding it comes from engrossing yourself into a good story.
The best stories ever told are the ones where the creator taps into that force that keeps people chugging through their stories because somehow, some way, on some deeper level we don't get yet, they've touched that sense of magic in our veins. I believe in that.
Book Seven: Puffs and the Gratuitous Chapter To Make This Frame Work
I could not think of any other section to fit this in. I just wanna say that, keeping in with the theme of absolute failure and ludicrous events that surround the Hufflepuff house in Puffs, the fire alarm went off.
The show had just finished, but there was still fog from their fog machine wafting through the theater. So, in the middle of the applause and the bowing, the fire alarms start SCREAMING at us. We were summarily asked to leave the building immediately, the fire department was coming.
19 Minutes Later
I didn't leave the theater yet. I stayed and chatted with the show's original producer, Colin Waitt, for a bit. I'd seen him before (he also produced Serials @ The Flea). I told him how much I loved the show, dropped him a message from a mutual friend, then I evacuated.
I stayed around in front of that normal sized door for a bit. I listened to the actors chat as they left (almost walked up to chat with some of them but didn't because I'm a wimp).
I was happy with the show, I was happier with myself after leaving the show.
I was ready to get on that train, bust out The Book of Merlyn, and Oh-My-Wizard-God I was ready to start feeling magic in my veins again.