Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child - Review

Review by JJ Marsh

Here is a prophecy. Not Professor Trelawney’s but mine.

Just as the Harry Potter novels got millions of young people reading, this play will create a new generation of theatregoers. Because Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is theatre at its best; simply great storytelling.

The cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; Photo by Manuel Harlan

Keeping an audience of wildly varying ages and experience enthralled for over five hours speaks for itself. The story and its world are as absorbing as ever but this is an entirely new tale. Complex, well-plotted and filled with fascinating characters, the story plumbs many classic Potter themes. Family. Love. Friendships. Loyalty. The weight of expectation. And what magic really means.

No spoilers - #keepthesecrets - but it’s common knowledge the play takes place nineteen years after Harry’s final year at Hogwarts. He is now 37 and a dad of three. However, parenting is proving to be a tougher challenge than the Triwizard Tournament.

L-R Noma Dumezweni (Hermione Granger), Jamie Parker (Harry Potter) and Paul Thornley (Ron Weasley); Photo by Manuel Harlan

The magic at the heart of this piece is how all the elements of great theatre work together. Impressive acting, breathtaking effects, imaginative design and quite brilliant direction all combine with a powerful script to create an immersive experience. The audience does not so much suspend disbelief, but willingly joins in the extraordinary illusion. The result is a layered, exciting, thrilling and touching adventure – the antithesis of push-button emotional manipulation.

L-R Sandy McDade (Trolley Witch), Anthony Boyle (Scorpius Malfoy), Sam Clemmett (Albus Potter) and the cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child; Photo by Manuel Harlan

So well do all the aspects of the performance work, it’s difficult to pick out a single feature for special mention. Yet Movement Director Steven Hoggett deserves extra applause for his use of physicality, both from cast and crew, so that even scene changes become part of the shapeshifting impression. Trains, staircases, forests, doorways and corridors are all magicked into being through understated suggestion and effective staging.

The Cursed Child is a triumph of theatrical storytelling, leaving the audience stunned, satisfied and awed by what the combination of imaginations can achieve.

Photos by Manuel Harlan

250,000 tickets to be released tomorrow (4 August 2016)

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