Friday, 29 July 2016

Harry Potter and the Big Secret (no major spoilers)

Way back last October, I succumbed to curiosity about what the new Harry Potter story might be, and booked tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child . And, given that you have to buy tickets for two shows, as the story is apparently too long for one, I booked during the preview period when  the tickets were half price!

About 3 weeks ago the tickets arrived. 

Last Sunday I caught a train up to London, in order to see the show. 

It was a very hot day, so having to queue for security checks was frustrating, although in fairness they were pretty efficient once they opened the doors and got going. 

The theatre has been completely redecorated internally, there are lamps with Hogwarts dragons on them, on pillars in the auditorium (and on the canopy outside the theatre) and new Hogwarts wallpaper.

Then of course there is the play itself. 

It really is one very long play, show in two parts. Depending on how you book, you can either see the two parts on one day (matinee and evening performance) as I did, or on two successive nights. I think that this is an advantage, as you get to see part two while the end of part one is still fresh in your mind (The break between the two is about 3 hours) 

So, what is it like? I'm not going to give a synopsis of the plot, because it hasn't even had press night yet, plus they give you little badges on the way out asking you not to spoil things for later viewers. (although should you decide that you need to know, google and you will find) 

What I will say is that it is spectacularly staged - the stage set has an arching framework reminiscent of a railway station, with multiple clocks, and a rather nice display of the phases of the moon on the front arch. The set also includes (at different time) wood panelled walls, moving staircases and a fascinating bookcase.

There are lots of excellent,and very well done, special effects. From the pupils joining the Hogwarts Express and 'magically' changing into their robes, to travel by floo powder, entering the Ministry of Magic through a phone box, transfiguration and use of Polyjuice potion, all of which happen on stage.

Alex Price (Draco) and Anthony Boyle (Scorpius)
Photo from the show's site

It's fun to see some of the characters we are familiar with from the books and films. Noma Dumezweni (Hermione) and Alex Price (Draco) were my favourites of the 'old guard' - Ron doesn't get a lot of opportunity to show how he has developed, which is a shame, but he is still a likeable character. Similarly, I'd have liked to see more of Ginny. Draco is perhaps the most developed of the older characters, and also gets many of the better scenes. More than any of the others, he seems to have developed as a person.

The play focuses upon Scorpius Draco and Albus Potter, and in between the excitement it is about parents (fathers) and children (sons), and the pressures of living up to them them. (and Scorpius) 

There are some great set pieces, there are some rather clunky bits of dialogue, to ensure, with sledgehammer subtlety, that no one misses the point. And the plot is both complicated and predictable. 

But despite its flaws, it's well worth seeing -  nearly 6 hours of almost constant spectacle, .and as much fun as the books.

I shall be interested to read the script book, to see what is left when it is stripped down to words on a page.

Of course, with the show being sold out until some time next year, if you don't already have tickets it's not going  to easy to try to hold of them, but if you do get the chance to go, take it. 

It's fun. 


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Blogger said...

I got my copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child book today.
I brought it off Amazon and they delivered it in just 2 days!
Amazon link:
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2