Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two - Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue
As Matt Trueman pointed out just before press night for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, “spoilers already exist. A single Google search will provide the plot in full, all its twists and turns laid bare”. So much for the #KeepTheSecrets campaign. And as I pointed out some years ago to somebody who hadn’t seen The Mousetrap before (the show has ended its performances ever since 1952 with a reminder not to tell anyone what happened), if I said Character X did This and That, how would that nugget of information be useful if they have no familiarity with the story?
I hadn’t read any of the books or seen any of the films in the Harry Potter series, so I passed up the opportunity to review it. So Terry Eastham went instead, and quite evidently had a wonderful time. His, and many other reviews, showered the show with praise, so when the opportunity arose to book tickets (I missed the initial release of tickets – I really wasn’t that interested initially) I took the plunge. However, I couldn’t see the show for over a year, and unlike Trueman, I still hadn’t quite finished all seven of them before seeing the play. Why not? I shan’t bore you with details about my personal circumstances, suffice to say there were a lot of shows to review in between, and the background reading for those, whether I did it before or after a press night (or a bit either side of it), took up a lot of my available reading time.
Kayti Burt has reasons to believe Harry Potter (Jamie Glover) himself could be the cursed child in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I disagree, if only because the play might as well be called Harry Potter and Harry Potter. I take her point that the play does not clearly establish who exactly it is. Given the number of spells used during the five-hour plus performance time, a tautological analysis – that is, looking clinically at who could be defined as ‘the child who is cursed’, there are indeed a number of possibilities. But this Harry Potter is all grown up – the play is, as its marketing is keen to inform its audiences, ‘nineteen years later’, so I rule him out as being the cursed child, purely on the basis that he is not a child. But there has to be one, ‘The Cursed Child’.
Yes, I’m being pedantic, but I’m limited in my powers of analysis by the blanket ban on spoilers rule. Who is it, then? Well, #KeepTheSecrets aside, I don’t actually know. According to my Kindle, I’ve read 92 per cent of the seven-volume book series, so I understood the majority of the references to previous events and all the rest of it, but none of that helped to say for certain. Like Bat Out of Hell The Musical, the special effects are a sight to behold, and on balance, The Cursed Child probably does even better than Bat on that score, as it does with furnishing audiences with a truly gripping storyline.
There’s some decent music (Martin Lowe) and choreography (Steven Hoggett) to enjoy too – though this is a play, so no singing – and it permeates through the performance, speeding it along. It didn’t feel like I’d spent hours and hours in the theatre at all. Despite this, I doubt I’ll be back to see it again, at least not any time soon. The only tickets available at the moment on the show’s website cost at least £199 to see both parts (via ATG Tickets) or £250 (via Nimax Theatres). This is to see something I’ve already seen! Nah. Okay, so there’s the infamous ‘Friday Forty’, and a recommendation to keep checking back to see if other cheaper seats become available, but, as Kimberly ‘Sweet Brown’ Wilkins put it in 2012, “ain’t nobody got time for that”.