It needs to be said initially, it is an absolute testament to the quality of this play that people who have seen it have adhered to its #keepthesecrets twitter hashtag, the show started in London well over a year ago and you would have to go out and buy a copy of the script or actively search online to find spoilers. People have vehemently kept to its request so as not spoil the magic of the play, I shall be doing the same with this review. Nestled in the West End of London near Shaftesbury Avenue is the Palace Theatre, home to one of the most high profile plays to hit London in recent years and bolstered by the attention of the avid Harry Potter fan base. The Cursed Child acts as the 8th story in the Harry Potter series, continuing some nineteen year after The Battle of Hogwarts at the point where Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows ended.
The first thing to be said about this show is the locale. The Palace theatre is a wonderfully ornate setting for this play, all filigree & cherubs in this grand Victorian era playhouse. I was seated in the grand circle on its front row, slightly stage-right. Leg room was sparse but the view was spectacular, not a thing was missed from my position and I was most grateful for that after waiting so long to see the play. The stage design is minimalist but functional with mundane props such as cases becoming chairs or in the opening, the Hogwarts express. That’s not to say that this play is completely minimalist in its approach, some genuine ingenuity is employed to convey the use of magic throughout the duration from good old fashioned misdirection to some frankly outstanding lighting effects, it really does make the whole affair an absolute joy to behold and certainly garnered lots of gasps and ‘wow’s’ from the audience.
The assembled cast, the outgoing original cast I may add, being replaced by fresh faces in May, were on the whole brilliant. The principal 3 characters of Harry, Ron & Hermione were cast perfectly and were if anything, as I imagined them on page, the same can be said of Draco, very strong performances from all these parts. To speak too much of the cast and the characters they play would be to ruin parts of the play but suffice to say they are excellent, the two younger leads in particular hold the play together nicely.
The big question is, is it worth spending in the region of £100 (that’s cheaper seating incidentally) to see a play that is over 4 hours long for both of its parts combined? It does depend on how familiar you are with the source material I suppose, I grew up reading the books so to me it was a no-brainer. I do also think there is enough spectacle and intrigue to even hold the attention of a layperson to the Potterverse. What I will say is this, if you are going make sure your tickets do not have restricted viewing, believe me when I say there is no part of the visual spectacle of this play that you will want to miss. It was an absolute joy to watch from start to finish and I would certainly recommend it.