It has been well over a month since I was one of the lucky few people that got to see a preview performance of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts 1 and 2. I am a huge Harry Potter fan so when I was in London for work, I knew I wanted to take a photo of the Palace Theatre that was home to the play and thought maybe I could try and see if there was at least a single ticket for the show. For the previews, you had to buy tickets for both parts as you really can’t just see Part 1 and not 2 since it leaves on a doozy of a cliffhanger.
This review is coming now as the play is set to open this Saturday, July 30, 2016 and also in the interest of #KeeptheSecret, I didn’t want to say much about this play until now. But since reviews are starting to stream in, I feel I can now share my thoughts. And fair warning that this review will contain spoilers of the play but not every spoiler.
The play’s official website offers the following about the show:
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
It is quite the vague synopsis that doesn’t fully convey what the play is truly about. Yes, we do see Harry as an overworked Auror but that is just a small part of the play. The usual trio of Harry, Ron and Hermione (Jamie Parker, Paul Thornley and Noma Dumezweni) take a bit of a backseat to the true stars of the play: Scorpius Malfoy (Anthony Boyle) and Albus (Sam Clemmett).
The two start their bromance at the beginning of the play, which is a replay of the 19 years epilogue from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with young Albus worried about being sorted into Slytherin. On the train, the only seat available is in the car with Scorpius. Rose Granger-Weasley (Cherrelle Skeete) warns Albus not to sit with Scorpius less ruin his reputation for the rest of their time at Hogwarts. You see rumour has it that Scorpius is actually the son of Lord Voldemort.
One of my issues of the play at first is the speed at which they rush through the younger generations first three years at Hogwarts. Fortunately, the action slows down where the entire play’s action takes place in year 4. It is important to remember the events of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire when going to see the play.
Once we are settled, the action picks up. I don’t want to spoil things but let’s say the play is about time travel and a newly acquired time turner that can travel back years.
In terms of the adult versions of our trio, Thornley shines as Ron who now runs Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezees. Thornley truly captures the goofiness of the character that was in the books and as portrayed by Rupert Grint in the movies.
Hermione is now the Minister of Magic and while Dumezweni gets Hermione’s drive and intelligence there was something a bit lacking in her portrayal that I felt Emma Watson captured so perfectly in the movies. That being said, I enjoyed seeing Hermione and Ron’s marriage fully realized on stage and their relationship was quite cute and enjoyed the chemistry between Dumezweni and Thornley.
Parker, meanwhile, seems to channel Harry from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoniex in terms of so much angst and yelling.
Aside from Thornley, I really loved Poppy Miller’s grown-up Ginny Potter nee Weasley. Miller was the rock and glue that holds the characters together and comes across as intimidating and sweet at the same time.
We get shout outs to beloved characters like Neville Longbottom but unfortunately do not appear in the play. At the preview of part 2 that I saw, the audience gasped when learning the fate of our beloved Gryffindor. We also get appearances by other beloved characters like Professor McGonagall, who is now the headmaster at Hogwarts and former headmaster Albus Dumbledore. Other characters make an appearance but who those are is very spoilery.
What makes this play magical is in fact the magic. The spells we’ve read and imagined in the books and seen on screen is brought to life by director John Tiffany. I truly loved how Tiffany staged people getting into the Ministry of Magic and how our cast travels via Floo Powder.
What makes this play is amazing are the performances. Boyle is the true breakout of this play. Boyle add humor and sympathy to Scorpius making totally the opposite of his father, Draco. Clemmett too is great as Albus and really did enjoy the friendship he and Boyle created on the stage.
Also, there is absolutely no way that you can just see Part 1 and not see Part 2. Like I said before, the cliffhanger is such a doozy that you can’t wait to come back the next day to see how things end.
As for who is the Cursed Child in the title? Well, I know but won’t spoil it. One thing I do know is that I will buy the rehearsal script when it comes out so I can relive the best theatrical experience I’ve ever been to over and over again.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2 is currently in previews at the Palace Theatre in London and opens July 30, 2016. You can buy tickets here.
Currently the show is sold out until May, 2017 but I will give you a tip on how I managed to get tickets. I stood in the queue for returned tickets, meaning these are tickets that people sold back to the box office because they can no longer go. I showed up around two hours before showtime. I managed to snag one single ticket for both parts. Your odds are better to see the play if you are a single person. But I’ve seen some couples get tickets too but if you are more than two, your chances of getting a returned ticket are low. Also, do not buy from scalpers as tickets have to be in your name when you enter the theatre. The box office changed the returned ticket to my name and printed off new ones for me.