REVIEW: HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD (Palace Theatre) ★★★★
The hugely anticipated stage show of HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD is harder to get a ticket to than Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Almost twelve months worth of tickets, sold out in a matter of hours when they were released earlier this year and this is expected to be repeated with 250,000 new tickets due to be released for sale next week, taking the show up to December 2017.
The secrets of this show are being closely guarded and audience members are being encouraged not to give too much away, so that everyone can experience the show for themselves with no pre-conceived ideas of what will happen. What I can tell you though is that the play is set 22 years after the last film. Harry Potter has become quite the celebrity and everyone knows his past story. This puts great pressure on son Albus, who is starting school at Hogwarts and feels a huge weight on his shoulders to live up to his fathers reputation. I would suggest the best place to sit would be the dress circle to get the full effect of some of the scenes.
I’ve seen all of the Harry Potter films and read a few of the books but I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan. I was certainly in the minority though when I saw the show. Audience members were glued to their seats, clapping and cheering throughout the show. One thing that is not a secret is that Potter fans are loving it. And I did too. It’s very easy to put on a show and use a well known book or film as its basis because it will sell tickets. Sadly not every show puts the time and effort into producing the best show possible for its audience. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has had nothing but love poured into it from all involved. The writing is wonderful, the direction brilliant, the choreography fascinating and of course the special effects… well they are definitely something special and I came out of Part 1 with my jaw on the floor in astonishment at what I had seen.
The cast of more than forty people do this play the justice it deserves. Noma Dumezweni steals the show as Hermione Granger, I don’t care if her skin is a different colour to the films character, Noma is without doubt the best person to be playing this role. Paul Thornley brings the comedic character of Ron Weasley to life and Alex Price does a great job with the character Draco Malfoy. Annabel Baldwin has some delicious scenes that are a joy to watch and Anthony Boyle is brilliant as Scorpious Malfoy. Sam Clemmett is adorable as Albus Potter. His delivery of the lines is remincient of Christopher Boone in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. Whether he has been directed to speak in this story telling way I cant be sure of but it was an interesting way to play the character. Claudia Grant adds some spunk to the show as Polly Chapman and lastly but most importantly, Jamie Parker handles the role of Harry Potter splendidly.
Whether or not Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has mass appeal to the regular tourist market, looking for a show to see on holiday, remains to be seen, as the five hour, two part play requires a lot of time and focus. Part 1 is certainly stronger than Part 2 but it is something to be enjoyed as one piece. With the number of people clambering around for non-existing tickets, I imagine this play has a good few years of selling out instantly before tickets start to become readily available. If you have the chance to go then you simply have to. Whilst some of the jokes and backstories may be lost on audience members who don’t know the books/films, the magic in the show is worth the ticket price itself.
Reviewed by West End Wilma
Photos: Manuel Harlan
250,000 tickets will be released for sale on Thursday 4 August 2016 at 11am BST, booking through to 10 December 2017. Tickets are priced from £15 per part and for every performance there will be 300 tickets at £20 or less per part. www.harrypottertheplay.com