Beth Carr reviews the highly anticipated Harry Potter and the Cursed Child ahead of its official opening in late July
Walking up to the Palace Theatre, it is clear that this is the only place in the West End to host Harry Potter’s eighth story. Visually spectacular, the Victorian red brick frontage is reminiscent of Hogwarts and the interior is equally magical, benefiting from a refurbishment especially for J. K. Rowling’s newest creation. The theatre was surrounded by eager fans and as doors opened the queue was already winding around the entire building. A warm welcome awaits spectators from security and staff, and after parting ways with an unfortunate packet of BBQ Beef Hula Hoops (no food is allowed into the theatre but you can take in water bottles) we were soon seated, ready to enjoy the performance.
At only the second preview, there is a buzz of anticipation in the auditorium over the exclusive opportunity we all had to discover the next chapter in Harry Potter’s story so early in a run that sold out within hours of tickets being released. Many fans dressed up for the occasion and there was barely a whimper at the ushers’ requests to turn all mobile phones off, nor were there any sneaky photos being taken, reflecting the loyalty of the Potter fans to Rowling’s request to keep the secrets.
Presenting the eighth story in the Harry Potter series as a play in two parts had a mixed reception when it was announced but, with Rowling’s signature twists and turns, I could not imagine this story being told in any other way. Theatre as an art-form differs from films to the printed page and this immersive experience is the perfect way to enjoy the next instalment of Harry’s life.
From the first minute I was captivated and by the interval I felt as if I had been transported back to my childhood years, feeling every emotion from excitement to fear and everything in between. Gasps were interspersed with laughter as humour and surprises littered the performance. There was plenty of peril and as Part 1 drew to a close we were aching to see the rest of the story. Returning refreshed for Part 2 after 72 hours of mulling over what the outcome could be, it was like returning to a familiar friend and the rest of the story did not disappoint.
Alongside Rowling’s wonderful story there is stunning choreography, impressive staging and a beautiful soundtrack composed by Imogen Heap. Each aspect is constant but non-intrusive and, at points, the audience were left wondering how such features were created live on stage. It is this theatrical magic which makes the notion of theatre so central to this production.
The show would not have been the same without the phenomenal casting. Jamie Parker, Paul Thornley and Poppy Miller, portraying Harry, Ron and Ginny, were perfectly placed to step into the shoes of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Bonnie Wright, while controversial choice, Noma Dumezweni, shone as Hermione, emanating the quick wit and care that epitomises her character. It is clear that Rowling was deeply involved in the creation of the play, with lines that perfectly reflected each of the key players in the Wizarding World.
This is not just a production for fans of Harry Potter, although it is recommended that you have some familiarity with Rowling’s creation, but a theatrical masterpiece which shows off the greatest potential of the stage. The emotions that surface as you enjoy the spectacle cannot be put into words, and this show is worth every penny of the ticket price.
For the latest information on the Harry Potter Play, visit the website: http://www.harrypottertheplay.com/.