Last month, I was one of the first people to get to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and now that reviews are officially allowed, I can’t wait to tell you about it! (Full disclaimer – I was a bit of a Potter-head back in the day so parts of this review may not make sense to you if you’ve managed to live under a rock for the past 20 years and are not familiar with the stories!)
First off, this story is meant to be enjoyed as a play. Sure, you can read the script from this weekend but the magic (so to speak) of the story is in the staging. I’ve seen a lot of shows in my time and this is the best production I’ve ever seen! It’s more than theatre – it’s basically a magic show, and the effects are what make it so enjoyable. From the very first scene where the actors change from wearing muggle clothes to wizard robes in the blink of an eye, you know this is going to be something special. The illusions are spectacular (the use of Polyjuice Potion, in particular, is very cleverly staged) and it feels infinitely more impressive than the movies did because it’s all happening right before your eyes!
The plot picks up where the final book left off, with Harry and Ginny sending off their son, Albus, for his first day at Hogwarts. On the Hogwarts Express, he meets Scorpius Malfoy and the two boys – both of whom feel like misfits – become best friends. Albus’s relationship with his famous father (who is now an overworked Ministry employee) becomes increasingly fraught, and leads Albus to decide he needs to fix something that he thinks was his father’s fault… and that’s all I can tell you!
Overall, the story feels a little weaker than earlier Harry Potter stories, but where it lacks the gut punch of the twists of the books, it makes up for it with a strong emotional grounding. From Harry beating himself up over his failings as a father to Albus’s grappling with wanting to be his own person, the characters feel like real people with real issues. I also really appreciated that the play took a less black-and-white approach to good and evil – it was especially nice to see Draco Malfoy fleshed out a little bit more than he was in the books. And, of course, the play made more sense to those who were familiar with the books – there were audible gasps when the fates of characters who never appeared on stage were revealed!
The actors were brilliantly cast (Jamie Parker as Harry Potter and Anthony Boyle as Scorpius Malfoy stole the show) and it was partly because of this that you felt you really were picking up the same story 19 years later. I know the show is basically sold out until May next year but I strongly recommend you do whatever you can to get your hands on a ticket – you won’t regret it!
The good: The magic – it really makes this show!
The bad: Two nights (or a whole day) is a pretty full on commitment- but it’s worth it!
The insider tip: 40 tickets are being released every Friday at 1pm for £20 per part (£40 total). Find out more on the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child website.
Venue: Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London
Showing: Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday (Part 1 matinee and Part 2 evening) or Thursday/Friday (Part 1 Thursday and Part 2 Friday) currently until May 2017
EDIT 28/7/16: A further 250,000 tickets will be released on Thursday 4 August at 11am BST (online queue open from 10am) for performances from 27 May to 10 December 2017.