Over a year ago I bought tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2. It wasn’t a pain free or cheap process but it was Harry Potter and I was excited. Then, as time went on, I forgot it was happening for about a year. But time passes and last Sunday Sister and I headed to the Palace Theatre and revisited our childhood.
I am going to be keeping the secrets. I took the badge after all. But I will be mentioning the plot in the loosest terms and have to talk a little about the production itself because that made the whole experience truly magical.
Is the West End lacking excellent, gripping plots? Sister and I spent almost six hours in the Palace Theatre and rather than a bored, lacklustre audience the crowd were intently following everything that happened on stage. The stereotype that British crowds are contained was definitely not true when I was there (I suspect for Harry Potter, that’s never true).
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child takes place exactly after the epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Draco are older and their children are now in Hogwarts trying to survive. For The Boy Who Lived, Hogwarts was his sanctuary and refuge from the Dursleys. However for his middle child Albus, school is anything but. Albus’ only friend is Scorpius Malfoy – even his cousin Rose Granger-Weasley doesn’t want much to do with him…
I had read the script before and Sister hadn’t. While I’d found it easy, if emotionless, to read she had found it difficult and hard going and hadn’t bothered after the first handful of pages. I don’t think knowing what happened stopped me from enjoying the production and Sister actually guessed the ending long before I did when I was reading it. In fact, for me, the script was dull in comparison. The characters I imaged (apart from Scorpius) were more flat than I would have liked and it was only when seeing them on the stage that I started to really enjoy it.
The cast is ridiculously strong. Paul Thronley, Noma Dumezweni, and Jamie Parker play Ron, Hermione, and Harry respectively. Sam Clemmett is Albus Potter, and Anthony Boyle is Scorpius Malfoy. Apart from Ginny who is surprisingly blah and Minerva McGonagall who is less strong than I remember, I loved everyone and almost loved all of their performances. But how much of that criticism should fall on the script?
My Hero Performance Award (just made that up) goes to Anthony Boyle as Scorpius. When I read the script he was the most interesting character and in the production Boyle makes this character so much more than an annoying teenager with Daddy Issues. A lot of the humour also rests with him and that coupled with his voice sliding up and down the scale made me fall in love with Scorpius hook, line, and sinker. Special mention also has to go to Annabel Baldwin as Moaning Myrtle who was wonderfully drippy.
The special effects in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child were unlike anything I have seen. From where I was sitting I had no idea how the transfigurations happened (though of course, can guess), or how walking wizards could be sucked into a telephone to visit the Ministry of Magic (again I can guess but with a lot less certainly of the answer). The duelling scenes were very entertaining and you could see the actors having lots of fun with it all.
What I didn’t expect were the high quality finishes: scenes changed with swishing cloaks as furniture was moved, luggage was a narrative theme throughout and the way the cast used suitcases to entertain still makes me smile. The staircases which famously in the books and movies moved, also moved on stage with both (intentionally) hilarious and tragic effects.
I did have issues with the play but they fell with the script and not the production. The female characters were underserved and underused – Rose Granger-Weasley was nothing more than a long footnote most of the time, Lily Potter was the smallest footnote possible, and even at one point Hermione Granger was reduced to nothing more than ‘mean’ woman because of a man. Seriously?! At times the writing was just poor and as I said at the very beginning, I found the plot boring when I read it. Seeing it on stage did so much to make it better.
I really recommend Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to everyone – if you can afford to then go get tickets. I don’t think it will be leaving the West End any time soon so even with the ridiculously high demand you should be able to see it. Though, like me, you’ll probably have to wait over a year for that pleasure.