“It’s because you love him too much”
So a slightly odd position to be in, as we saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts 1 and 2 nearly 7 weeks ago at their first previews. And with the #keepthesecrets campaign already in full force then, I didn’t write up a review, opting instead for this preview of sorts. And even now, I’m loathe to write too much about it, for it really is the kind of play, and production, that benefits from the multiple elements of surprise contained within.
And it really is packed full of them, from all aspects. Based on an original new story by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Thorne’s play revels in the richness and full depth of the Harry Potter universe to the point where the named cast are described as playing “roles include…” so as not to spoil what’s to come. This does have the knock-on effect of making this a play not really suitable for newcomers but I can’t imagine too many of them will have booked!
And completely embracing the opportunities offered by theatrical storytelling, director Tiffany has gone all out with every single creative element firing on all cylinders to provide the kind of sumptuous visual treat which truly is nothing like you’ve seen in a theatre before. Jeremy Chernick’s special effects will take your breath, Jamie Harrison’s illusions and magic will leave you agog, the sheer scale of what they all achieve is just stunning.
In this respect, Part 1 was my favourite. More focused on setting up this theatrical iteration of Harry Potter’s world, it feels equal parts Tiffany, Thorne and Rowling – the staging is gorgeously flowing (movement from the ever-excellent Steven Hoggett), the story is beautifully focused on teenage awkwardness as you’d expect from Thorne and there’s enough Potter-isms to surely please the fans. The balance between the three was perfect when I saw it and Part 1’s ending is a stone-cold classic.
Part 2 tipped over a little too much into the latter of these categories, a whole lotta plot and story beats and explanations getting worked through at the expense of the overall atmosphere that blessed Part 1. I’m guessing previews will have ironed some of this out and I look forward to reading others’ opinions to see what they thought, both from critics and from fans.
So there you have it. There’s little more to say than to commend the entire cast and creative team, plus the FOH staff, on a simply tremendous job in taking the blockbuster potential of Harry Potter and instead of taking the money and running, doing it absolute justice to create the kind of theatrical memories that will live long whether this is the first play you’ve seen or the thousandth.
Running time: Part 1 – 2 hours 45 minutes (with interval); Part 2 – 2 hours 35 minutes (with interval)
Booking until the end of all time, most probably.