Waiting in line outside the Bally at Gluttony on the last brisk evening of February, ticket holders are doused when the jet-powered water sprinklers activate unexpectedly.
The crowd agrees: She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named is responsible.
Taking our seats in one of the more intimate of the temporary venues in Rymill Park, we see a sleeping “Harry” wearing rainbow socks and Gryffindor livery. The hardback editions of Goblet of Fire strewn around are instantly recognisable to a late millennial like me. An LGBTQ+ Progress Pride flag hangs on the wall, making the passionate beliefs held by the cast and creator and performer Rich Watkins clear: Trans Rights are Human Rights.
Wonderfully, Reclaiming Harry fights bigotry with unbridled love for fantasy, the queer community, trashy/iconic ’90s pop music, and delightfully camp characters. The influences of cabaret, musical theatre, pantomime and drag are obvious as the characters are swept through various iconic works of the fantasy genre in the hopes of rewriting Harry’s story.
South Australian singer and actor Jemma Allen is instantly watchable as Ally, who, like many of us, fell in love with these fantastical worlds as a child. Jens Radda gives Daniel Radcliffe a run for his money as a rather insecure and clueless Harry, and Watkins, as “everyone else”, brings a bombastic elan to each elderly wizard, green-suspendered conman, or helpful faun that Harry and Ally meet.
The occasional technical issue on opening night only adds to the delight of the production, as we laugh along with Gandalf trying to keep his hat on through a musical number, and become an impromptu rhythm section for an unexpected a cappella singalong.
Liberating your obsession with a franchise from its author is a tough task, but the cast of Reclaiming Harry tackle it with pure love and aplomb, for both the fantasy worlds that captivated us as children, and for the richness of the diverse queer community.
The show is an evening of joy in a challenging world, and well worth the visit. Just don’t forget your wand.
Reclaiming Harry is at the Bally in Gluttony until March 19.
Read more 2023 Adelaide Fringe stories and reviews on InReview here.
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