What happens when a double act gets a third wheel?

Dan and Jeff have been a double act for nearly ten years, winning international acclaim and two Olivier Award nominations for their shows Potted Potter and Potted Panto. In their fourth and latest show, Potted Sherlock, they introduce a third cast member (a girl!) for the first time. That duty falls to Lizzie Wort. Here, the duo – and Lizzie – explore the secret of their double act success.

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Jeff: In all of our shows, Dan is the obvious idiot and I’m not. That is, I come across at first as not the idiot, but then by the end of the show, it becomes evident that, in fact, I’m the total idiot and Dan’s kind of known what was going on all along.

 

Dan: It’s that tried and tested formula of the double act. I can’t believe I’m going to use Morecambe and Wise in the same sentence as us, but it’s that style: one goofing around and having fun and the other one trying to hold it together and stay professional. We’ve always said, there’s no such thing as a straight man versus a funny man in our partnership, because the comedy comes from their individual characteristics.

 

Jeff: Is that why you tell me I provide the pauses in between the laughs?

 

Dan: Hey, I was being nice to you just now!

 

Jeff: You were and, it’s so rare, I didn’t know how to react!

 

Dan: Let’s say mine is the more obvious comedy, but then your comedy comes in as the one getting flustered by what’s happening.

 

Jeff: There’s also an underlying love between the two characters that comes across. I mean, why would Jeff keep working with Dan if he didn’t feel like his social worker?

 

Dan: It’s interesting now bringing in a third person for Potted Sherlock – you see the double act really come together and close ranks.

 

Jeff: Yes, when this girl comes into the show, I get annoyed. It’s like, ‘I can say whatever I want about Dan, but no one else can’.

 

Dan: Yes, ‘he’s my idiot.’ Anyway, Lizzie’s role is very small.

 

Jeff: Not small, just unimportant.

 

Dan: There’s no such thing as small parts, there’s just Lizzie.

 

Lizzie Wort, having not heard this diminution of her role (!), adds…

Lizzie: It’s absolutely daunting for me coming into the double act. Their formula has worked for a long time and we all want to make sure that the fans still get the Dan and Jeff they know and love. I don’t want to spoil that. I want to bring a new added energy. Obviously, I’m a female and, coming between the boys onstage, that rocks the boat a little, which is fun.

Also, there are just so many characters in Sherlock Holmes. I just don’t know how they could have done it with just the two of them anyway! It’s a massive show, at least 50 costumes for the three of us. I dread to think how many parts I’m playing. At least 15? I can barely remember my name sometimes!

 

Potted Sherlock is at Pleasance Courtyard, 30 July to 25 August 2014 at 14:50 (runs 1 hour 10 minutes).

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