Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two

What: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Parts One and Two
Where: Princess Theatre, Melbourne

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I was lucky enough to attend a preview performance of the critically acclaimed, award-winning Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in early February, after I, along with over 18,000 Potterheads ahead of the line in front of me, waited from 11am to secure pre-sale tickets back on July 30th, 2018.

Truth be told, I don’t claim to be the biggest Harry Potter fan. I’ve seen/own all the movies, own a few bits of merchandise (a pygmy puff toy, two Ravenclaw scarves, two Ravenclaw t-shirts, a Ravenclaw tote bag and two Gilderoy Lockhart Pop! Vinyl figures), and have read all the books and many of the various add-ons. However, I’d never read the book of the same name that the stage play is based upon, so I went into the show completely oblivious to the story. Like I wanted to.

There’s a reason the hashtag #keepthesecrets exists, because you should do just that. So, I’m not going to spoil too much.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a new play by Jack Thorne. It is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage.

The story centres on Harry Potter’s (Gareth Reeves) relationship with his teenage son, Albus (Sean Rees-Wemyss), nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts. Along for the ride is his childhood besties, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger (Paula Arundell), and school-yard rival, Draco Malfoy (Tom Wren).

Newcomer, William McKenna puts on a standout performance as Scorpius Malfoy, injecting much-appreciated, awkward humour in a sometimes otherwise dark story. I had my doubts, but I too liked Gyton Grantley’s comedic delivery.

Although sworn to secrecy on the intricacies of the plot, the story is not as strong as the production, with Act 2 being more entertaining than the inconsequential (well 1 and 3/4s anyway) first. The positives here outweigh the negatives, namely its short scenes, duller moments and awkward transitions (though I’m nitpicking, and these problems might be fixed once previews end). There were laughs, scares, gasps, oohs, aahs, drama, twists, turns, heart, life lessons and emotional beats. I went home the next day and hugged my Mum (actual true story) – because, reasons.

Nonetheless, the magic in itself is incredible – from the sleight of hand tricks to the gravity-defying stunt effects – and there’s enough shocks and surprises to delight the biggest of enthusiasts to those vaguely familiar with the story.

Taking in more than five hours of theatre is a mammoth task, especially if you watch both parts in one day. Tickets can get pricey (ranging from $130-$540 for both parts), but fear not, if you’re on a budget, keep an eye on TodayTix to score some of the best seats in the house for a total of $80.

Granted, the play has its flaws but as a fan, it was nice to return to a familiar setting and revisit characters many of us grew up with and loved. Considering I paid over $360 to see the show, I have no regrets. I later spent way too long in the merchandise shop, and am considering going back for either a Ravenclaw, Death Eater or Cursed Child t-shirt. I’m also still in awe of some of the illusions performed – and gosh, do I ever want to shout spoilers from the rooftop! Mainly to discuss it, as the problem I’ve found with seeing it so early, is few I know who’ve seen it too.

It’s not a play for everyone, but you’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t blown away by at least something in this ground-breaking production. Those familiar too with the inside of the Princess Theatre previously, will be impressed by its recent $6.5 million Potterfied transformation.

Here are my tips for before you see the show:

  • DON’T read any spoilers before you see it!
  • DO visit the merchandise shop!
  • DO dress up if you want to – because half the audience will be too.
  • DON’T be late! Your bag will be searched before you enter the theatre.
  • DO pick up a free #keepthesecrets badge during Acts One and Two.
  • DON’T read the cast list in the programme until the end of Act Two!

And most importantly, do Keep The Secrets.

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