Triangle arts review
Durham Performing Arts Center
Forest Moon Theater
Harnett Regional Theatre
High School Theatre
Koka Booth Amphitheatre
Neuse Little Theatre
North Carolina Theatre
North Raleigh Arts & Creative Theatre
PlayMakers Repertory Company
Raleigh Little Theatre
ShaLeigh Dance Works
Theatre In The Park
This weekend, the young thespians of Green Hope High School, under the skilled direction of Peter Comperatore, put on a completely charming performance of Puffs, written by Max Cox. This play, alternately titled Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic retells a beloved, well-known book series . . . but from the perspective of the not-so-heroic, at least not at first glance, “Puffs.” These are the students from whom not much is expected, but as this delightful tale reveals, every story is worth hearing, and every life has a purpose.
The charming narrator, portrayed by an effective Alys Fewkes, gets right to business as the show opens. She has a story to deliver and characters to introduce, and she wastes no time. Fewkes knows just when to infuse emotion into her recountings, and she (and the show itself) demonstrates the perfect irreverent tone throughout, effectively keeping even the script’s darker moments light and enjoyable.
As the story’s quasi-hero Wayne, portrayed by an adorable and highly likeable Silfan Hirpa, is introduced, along with a host of other colorful characters, viewers are sure to feel the joy in the air. Each “Puff” in the performance adds something unique to the cast and to the story itself. And, despite the fact that the onstage action sometimes gets a bit frenzied, Comperatore keeps his cast in line, and his stage never feels cluttered. Also nice here are the cool-but-practical effects like the magical train platform, impressive lighting effects (Katie Allman), and the beautifully shaped and painted school backdrop.
Zoe Simpson’s “Megan,” the show’s cynical Puffs-antagonist, adds to the magic of the performance. An easy standout among the talented cast, Simpson effectively portrays Megan’s character arc and growth from beginning to end. Her talent is well-matched by two other female superstars, Ipsi Vasipalli as Hannah and Molly Campell as Leannne, both of whom, it has to be said, absolutely nail the English accents. Other fun additions include Brody Lyons’ nutty, hilarious turn as “Uncle Dave” and Henry Rowen’s sweet, heroic portrayal of “Oliver Rivers.”
Even as the Puffs lose house points and fail again and again in the first act, it’s clear, thanks to strong acting and direction, that these are characters who are going somewhere. And, as the second act reveals, they most certainly do. Surprising, slightly snarky, and completely complete with silly sound effects and amusing musical choices, this is one show that will make viewers root (and root hard) for the underdogs.
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