Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Parts One and Two
27 July 2016
5 Stars (and then some)
I doubt that even J K Rowling herself, had any idea when she put pen to paper to start writing the first Harry Potter story, that she would create a world and characters that become so beloved and iconic. Something that spoke to people of all ages, and brought people together. Yesterday, at London’s Palace Theatre, I experienced something quite magical, and that was just watching the audience. Harry Potter And The Cursed Child had finally arrived, and what was going on up on stage was simply extraordinary.
Harry Potter And The Cursed Child is a play, no a theatrical experience, which picks up on the story of Harry Potter some 20 years after we left him in the last film. Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermoine, now all have families of their own, and with those families come all of the ups and downs of family life. To say more than that I think would be to ruin the magic, but suffice to say this Potter story is every bit as creative, every bit as challenging, every bit as addictive, as what came before it.
What is wonderful about the play, is there has been no book to warn people what is to come. JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany have crafted a new story incorporating characters from Rowling’s magical world which is custom built for the stage, and the whole audience gets to sit and watch it unfold together.
Sat around me were die-hard fans and people who had enjoyed the films, wanting to see what happened next. What was simply incredible, was the combined reaction as the story unfolded. Just before Part Two commenced, I sat eavesdropping on those same die-hard fans postulating what might be in store in Part Two. Each had come up with their own incredible plot variations, and I was quite amazed that one of them had pretty much got most of it right, but even he was left agog with some of the plot turns.
This production is a masterpiece of story-telling on every level. Every facet of the production has been thought through so carefully, right down to the choice of venue for the production. It’s not quite immersive theatre, but there is no doubt that the wonderful Palace Theatre is as a much a star of this show as anybody on stage.
Director John Tiffany and Movement Director Steven Hoggett, who created theatrical magic with Once, will no doubt be opening their own vault at Gringotts as they have struck theatrical gold once again. This is a lean, beautifully told and incredibly beautiful production to watch. Movement is used dramatically, capes whirl and bit by bit the story unfolds. I was mesmerised from start to finish.
Set Designer Christine Jones, Costume Designer Katrina Lindsay and Lighting Designer Neil Austin have created a playground for Harry Part 8 bringing to life a plethora of locations, familiar characters and some absolutely gobsmacking treats. Illusionist Jamie Harrison uses this playground to full effect creating some jaw-dropping moments. This is technical theatre at its absolute best.
As Harry Potter, Jamie Parker is everything you could possibly want (and more). Parker presents a Harry that had enormous responsibility at an early age, watching him find his way even now in adulthood has its own new challenges and is a privilege. Poppy Miller as Ginny Weasley is simply perfect. Ginny is mother, confidant, wife, and warrior and we would not have it any other way.
Paul Thornley’s Ron and Noma Dumezweni’s Hermoine, perfectly round out the original trio of friends. There is incredible honesty in both of these performances. Never at any moment do you feel uncomfortable or suffer any disbelief.
One of the more interesting performances came from Alex Price as Draco Malfoy. Malfoy is a man who has enormous pride and enormous strength. He did however back the wrong horse in the main event. So how do you go on? Price’s performance was masterful, I found that watching his journey with his son Scorpius hit raw nerves with me, giving me great respect for the man. Bravo!
Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is very much a play about the relationships between parents and children, and in this production we get to meet some of the next generation, in particular Sam Clemmett’s Albus Potter and Anthony Boyle’s Scorpius Malfoy. Their on stage relationship is extraordinary. Keep an eye out for these two incredible talents.
There are so many characters in this production, that in every respect it is as epic as any of the movie adaptations, but despite the largesse of the show, I’m pleased to say that the emotional core remains completely intact.
The mega-fans near said just before the start of Part One, that they had no doubts that Harry Potter And The Cursed Child would be incredible. They had complete faith that J K Rowling would not have been involved or allowed it, if it did not meet with her approval. They had absolute faith that she would not let them down. Well, to my mind she didn’t. JK Rowling, the producers, cast and creatives and the hard working crew of this production have created one of the best theatrical experiences of my life. If there were to be more Harry stories, this is the way I’d like to see them.
At the end of the production I was quite literally in tears as were many of those around me.
PS. In order that everyone gets to share the show exactly as I did, producers have asked everyone to Keep The Secrets. To this end, and I hope it came out in the writing, there is a lot to this production that could have kept me raving on for ages. Make it magical for everyone – no spoilers!
PPS. I saw Harry Potter And The Cursed Child in two sittings on one day. If you are a die-hard fan see the show this way – I doubt you’ll survive the anticipation having to wait more than 24 hours for Part 2. I have never seen so many people already back in their seats ready for part two 20 minutes ahead of time. Having the same seat for both parts, I saw audience members chatting to strangers, talking about the show, sharing their experiences. This was perhaps the best behaved audience I’ve seen in the West End, complete silence reigned, laughs and suprises shared. Thank you too to the wonderful Nimax staff at the Palace, so many smiling faces and amazing service.
PPS. Producers have announced that a further 250,000 seats will be released for sale on August 4, 2016 booking through to December 2017.