Harry Potter treads the boards

I recently got a chance to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the two part HP play that is currently featured in London’s West End. Around the same time, the play broke records for Olivier Award nominations and actual award success, so I was going in with some pretty high expectations.

Naturally, I have to #keepthesecrets but it’s fair to say that I can fully endorse the awards for production, lighting and sound. The general production values of the entire five hour play are astonishing: incredible music, wonderful visuals and some astounding effects. We’re watching wizards, after all, so there’s some exciting stuff to behold.

I wasn’t so keen on all of the acting, some of it was too fast, too loud, too hammy. Ron and Hermione were perfect, and whilst Harry, Draco and the others had more emotions to deal with, it would have been nice to fully understand what they were saying. A new cast are coming in for the second year, so it would be interesting to see what difference a new take on the characters makes.

I can understand the need for the double play format, there’s quite a lot of story to get through, and there’s a natural cliffhanger right in the middle. I saw it all in one day, though, and so it was five hours of sensory overload so that I was totally wrecked by the end, and felt kinda delicate the next day too. The woman sitting next to me was in tears from start to finish of the second half, though, whether through joy or sadness I don’t know. I dread to think what kind of emotional hangover she was feeling the next day.

After I read the book, I said I would reserve judgement on many of the issues until I’d seen the play. Now I have, I’m still not much further forward. There are still some significant discrepancies between what was in the books and what happens 19 years in the future, but equally, the story works much better on stage and is an interesting addition to the canon. It was good to see the fleshed out characters, as it had felt one-dimensional in the script book.

Overall I enjoyed it and it was absolutely worth queueing outside the theatre for twenty minutes in the pouring rain. But I’m not sure if I would make quite so much effort to see it again.