A couple of weeks ago my wife, son, and I had the opportunity to see the new play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The story continues years after the original. This time, it’s Harry’s son who goes to Hogwarts. And, you know, mayhem ensues.
Unlike any other play I’ve seen, this one is so long that it is shown in two parts, each with its own intermission. We saw part one on a Thursday evening and returned for part two on Friday. The play is in preview at the Palace Theatre in London. It rolls out officially on July 30th. Unfortunately, its my understanding that the play is sold out almost a year in advance. That said, you may have luck finding tickets via StubHub or other ticket resellers. In our case, about a year ago, we had submitted our email address to be alerted as soon as the preview tickets became available. Even then, the seats we got were pathetic, but at least we got to go!
We were blown away.
Even though the play was still in preview when we saw it, the staging, special effects, and magic were amazing. At times, everything was orchestrated so well that I temporarily forgot that I was watching a play. In that sense, it was more like a movie… but in a good way. And, did I mention magic? Sure, with a lot of the magic, it was easy to see how it was done. But, sometimes it was as good as any you’d see at a professional magic show. And, because the magic was live, it was way more impressive than seeing it in a movie. Some of my favorite effects included time travel, apparition, and transfiguration.
Despite loving the play overall, there were plenty of things we disliked. Our biggest gripe was with the seating itself. Our seats were near the back of the balcony. And the balcony is a gazillion feet from the stage. Seriously. We may have been slightly closer to the moon. They really shouldn’t even sell tickets to the balcony.
The acting wasn’t perfect either. This may be due to the fact that it was still in preview mode. Maybe they were still working out the kinks of the dialog. I don’t know. I did notice though that one problem was that some actors used their “play voices”, for lack of a better term. Even though they all wore microphones, some talked in that just-short-of-shouting voice that is necessary in plays without microphones. With many plays, I wouldn’t have noticed this, but since this one often made me forget I was watching a play, it was disappointing to be jolted back to reality by an actor’s “play voice”.
The story was good, but not great. I’m hoping that the book will be better on that score. But, the biggest problem with the story probably can’t be fixed in a book. I can’t say much about this without spoiling the story – suffice to say that it seems as if some of the rules of magic established in the original series seem to have been broken in this round.
And, finally, the magic was often great, but sometimes far from it. It’s possible – likely even – that the few failures (such as a pathetic Patronus) will be fixed when the play opens for real. And, for Potter’s sake, please do something more impressive with the sorting hat!
Despite the handful of criticisms described above, we loved the play. If you’re even slightly a Harry Potter fan, then I highly recommend it.