I have been counting down the weeks since we booked tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child play at the West End in the middle of last year. And last weekend the date finally came.
I’m going to be keeping up with the promise of #keepthesecrets which the theatre asks all watchers to do. So they’ll be no spoilers or storyline reveals, you can read the play manuscript should you desire for that. We preordered the play so we could get the first edition of the book but since then it’s sat on a shelf in our living room, Ben planned to read it and never did and I decided I wanted to keep the play as a total unknown so I had no expectations and I’m really glad I did as I only had genuine surprises.
I said on my Instagram whilst I was on the train going home that it was the most magical thing I had seen in the theatre – regardless of the fact it was about magic. The first half of the first act is quite fast pased, at one point I did wonder whether this was going to stop, before it settled into a steadier pace storyline, it does a good job of letting you know the history of the newer characters without spending too much time labouring over it.
The thing I liked about the storyline most is that it builds into a storyline you’re already familiar with from the previous books, a story you know and love already manages to get a little bit more special. The castings for this are fabulous – the characters you already know such as Harry (that’s not really a spoiler, it’s called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child after all) are perfect. In the beginning it doesn’t do the really obvious thing of addressing directly who everyone is, some of the characters are obvious whilst others you realise over time who they’re meant to be.
The experience of the play was entirely emersive, the best of example of which is me realising my mouth had been open for so long that it has almost entirely dried out and the last drip of moisture trickled from my mouth which bought me back in the room reminded me that it wasn’t actually reality. They did a really good job of transforming sets quickly, with incredible special effects that had me muttering to Ben ‘I don’t know how they did that’ several times throughout. I was a bit worried about how magical the experience was going to feel as a stage performance, all I’ll say is it exceeded all of my expectations and went beyond.
The one problem I had with it was the costumes of many of the female characters, without going too far, how often did Hermoine Granger dress formally (when she didn’t have to) and when did she ever wear bright colours? I think that being my only gripe of the show goes to show just how much I had to be picky to find some kind of fault.
The Palace theatre is somewhere I’ve visited before to see Les Mis as as young teenager before it moved, but the theatre itself looks like if Hogwarts had a theatre it would look something like this. Unfortunately the front of the theatre was blocked off from roadworks which spoilt me getting a great shot! from a food distance. The top of the signage for the play shows the Cursed Child sitting inside a not-so-golden snitch.
The walls have even been rewallpapered to fit in with the kind of styling you’d expect. We had really good seats 5 rows from the front, my thinking with these things is that if I’m going to wait a year and half to see something I want it to have been worth the wait, they were £70 per ticket per play – so all together the day was £280, and it was worth it. That was around 5 hours of theatre. There are surprises through the show, and I will say even if you’re on the fourth tier (the Palace theatre is a very tall theatre), then I still don’t think you’ll be disappointed, but I am glad that we spent the money on the second most expensive seats. I think there are some elements of the show which can actually be better appreciated at a distance, so don’t worry if you’re unable to get the best seats in the house.
Read before or wait?
I’m really glad that I didn’t so much as open the cover on our book. The whole play was a total surprise to me and it was really nice going in not knowing what it was going to be about. Most Harry Potter fans are very familiar with Harry Potter, I’m borderline being able to recite my favourite (Half Blood Prince) when I watch it, so it was nice to be discovering a unfamiliar story for the first time in the place it’s meant to be told.
To go the same day or have a gap?
We almost chose to go on two separate days to part one and part two, but I’m really glad that we didn’t. When you book tickets for the Cursed Child, you have to buy parts one and two together, however if you want to book these on separate days you can do. Part one leaves it on a cliff hanger, I’m glad we only had a two hour gap to see how the story was going to continue.
If I lived or was staying in London I would maybe leave a gap, but only a short one between parts one and two – probably only a day though! Most people seemed to be in both parts, all the people sat around us were the same in part one and two.
On one side it’s sad that maybe not many people will read this story or maybe get to see the play – as far as I’m aware it’s only planned to be in London with no expansion. But there’s also something quite special walking out of the theatre knowing the secrets. This would make a fabulous film, and I hope they stick by the plans to never make it into a film.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, I’d say that it’s worth travelling to London with the soul purpose of seeing this show, not even joking. It is my most favourite piece of theatre I’ve seen (and I’ve been to a lot of what’s on the West End). The cast was phenomenal, the sets and special effects were sitting-open-mouthed good and I already want to book tickets for another visit.
What are your favourite musicals and plays? Next on my list I think is Aladdin!