Does HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD work better as one long show rather than two parts?

Based on the beloved book and film series by J K Rowling, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was brought to life as a stage show, opening at the Palace Theatre in London in 2016. A two-part play, set years after the final Harry Potter book, telling the story of Harry and his son, who is off to Hogwarts school himself, under pressure to live up to his father’s historical past.

In 2018, the play opened on Broadway in the same format, two plays, both around 2.5 hours each, which could be viewed on the same day (one in the afternoon and one in the evening), or in separate parts on any given days.

But during the pandemic, when all theatres were closed, the New York production announced that when it returned to the Lyric Theater stage in November 2021, it would be as one condensed 3.5-hour show (with one interval).

Whilst in New York this week, I was curious to go and check it out to see how it worked as one long show.

Firstly, as it is one show, you only pay the price for one (making it half the price it would cost to see both parts in London). I paid the equivalent of £75 for a third-row seat in the dress circle (the best place to sit in my opinion for the special effects), which would be around that price or slightly more (when I compare to current tickets on sale for the London production) per part.

Secondly, Broadway theatres are much more modern than those in the West End and obstructed views are far less of an occurrence, meaning you don’t have to worry about getting vertigo if you sit in the cheap seats at the top of the theatre or book in fear of having a pillar in front of your seat, blocking your view.

This was my third time seeing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and despite the fact they must have shaved an hour off of the play to make it fit into 3.5 hours, I didn’t notice anything that had been cut. I am sure die-hard fans of the show will be able to tell me but it didn’t affect the story or my enjoyment.

I was unsure how it would feel sitting still, watching a play for that length of time with only one break but it was actually very comfortable and the time flew by. Even the youngsters in the audience seemed fine with the lengthy acts which surprised me.

Overall I would definitely say there is a place for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to be a condensed, single show. Hardcore fans of the books may prefer the longer, two part version, but for those who don’t want to spend a whole day watching one show, this abridged version is perfect.