Cappies Review of Puffs (Two Act Edition for Young Wizards) at South County High School

By Communication and Community Relations
January 10, 2022

Fairfax County Public Schools students are talented actors, musicians, and visual artists. Many FCPS high schools participate in the Washington, D.C., chapter of the Critics and Awards Program for High School Theatre, otherwise known as the Cappies.

The Cappies is a program through which high school theater and journalism students are trained as critics, attend shows at other schools, write reviews, and publish those reviews in local newspapers. There are fifteen Cappies chapters across the United States and Canada. 

Editor's Note: This review of South County High School's production of Puffs (Two Act Edition for Young Wizards) is written by Sara Kaufman of Justice High School.

Stories tend to favor characters who are stereotypically brave, intelligent, or cunning, but rarely mention the tales of those who value kindness. We all know Potter's story, but South County High School's "Puffs (Two Act for Young Wizards)" followed the narrative of the nameless classmates who fought bravely by his side. 

Written by Matt Cox, "Puffs" offers a new perspective on the beloved Harry Potter series by focusing on the awkwardly likable students in the neglected Hufflepuff house. Instead of retelling the story from the position of Harry and his two friends, "Puffs" highlights the viewpoint of Wayne, Oliver, and Megan as they receive their magical education while being put at a disadvantage for their Puff placement. 

Zach Patel, who portrayed, depicted his character's endearing naivety with ease, allowing the audience to fall in love with his story. Wearing his heart on his sleeve, Patel's use of quirky physicality and impeccable comedic timing made for an unforgettable performance. 

Commanding the show with his strong stage presence was Noah Pflugrath as the omnipresent narrator. Pflugrath successfully managed the difficult task of portraying a character who did not directly interact with his castmates with a sense of professionalism. Engaging flawlessly with both the story and the audience, Pflugrath guided us into the magical world of the production. 

Working as a well-oiled machine, the ensemble of Puffs highlighted the importance of friendship. Though the ensemble clearly served as a collective unit through their many lines in unison and interactions, each actor developed a distinct character, allowing for a dynamic performance. Whether it was Talia Williams' (Leanne) lively attitude or Emma Skog's (Hannah) deadpan humor, the audience was enamored by the wide range of characters who worked cohesively to tell the story. 

The technical elements of this production drew the audience into the mystical world of the play. All lighting and sound were done flawlessly, allowing the audience to really believe the magic that was occurring on stage. Seamless lighting and sound cues were managed by Dominique Monette and executed by Sarah Khalil, Steven Gigrich, and Phil Gigrich. The use of different lighting colors was creative and matched the tone of the characters: the Narrator was lit in a cold blue, the evil "snakes" were highlighted by a green aura, and the welcoming Puffs were highlighted with warm hues. Additionally, distinct sound effects allowed the audience to understand the otherwise confusing rules of the magical world, such as a buzzing when house points were lost. 

Through amazing acting and strong technical elements, South County High School's production of "Puffs (Two Act for Young Wizards)" taught the audience that though it may not seem like it, you are the hero in your own story.