What’s it all about?
Ah, the golden question – but rest assured you’ll find no spoilers here, not for all the veritaserum (truth potion, to you and me) in Azkaban...
Set 19 years after the conclusion of J.K. Rowling’s world-conquering seven-novel boy wizard book series, Harry is now a globally revered husband, high-ranking magical bureaucrat, and less-than-successful father of three. But being related to the one and only Harry Potter holds its own implications for his family, particularly for his youngest son Albus, with the result that Harry's past and present might be set to ominously collide...
What I can say is that the events of Harry Potter And The Cursed Child are not merely a side plot shackled to the fringes of the series, but a tidal wave of rollercoaster events that delve deep beneath the very stories of Harry and Hogwarts you’ve known and loved for years, frequently shaking the very foundations of the franchise’s lore. Thrills aplenty lie in store.
Broadly based on the adverse effects of personal isolation, the redemptive power of friendship, and the terrifying nature of honesty, Harry, his friends, their children and plenty of old favourites take to the Palace Theatre stage to bring to life a lavishly detailed story that could well form another novel in itself. Revelations throughout will have large portions of the audience audibly gasping, and to keep those gasps going… well, plot-wise, I’ll #KeepTheSecrets indeed.
Who’s in it?
A blockbuster cast is headlined by recent History Boys and Guys And Dolls lead Jamie Parker as the grown-up manifestation of The Boy Who Lived himself, along with rising star Noma Dumezweni as Hermione and West End favourite Paul Thornley as Ron, the trio all acquitting themselves brilliantly in the parts, with relatable traces of their younger characters still salient throughout. Alex Price (Malfoy), Anthony Boyle (Malfoy's son, Scorpius) and Sam Clemmett (Harry's youngest, Albus) are also at the forefront of affairs, delivering quite possibly career-making performances laden with humour and succinct moments of emotion.
Off the stage, however, huge praise must go to the names featured within the production credits list in the programme. All are equally deserving of the plaudits for their spell-binding (forgive the obvious pun) effects, props, costumes, production values, music, lighting, movement, sets, designs, choreography, direction... Cast, crew and creatives combine here to form a team at the pinnacle of its art.
What should I look out for?
The very occasion of going to see the show. It’s no secret that tickets are harder to come across than Norwegian Ridgeback eggs, but being part of its audience possesses an electric feel of sheer excitement, reflected in theatregoers' eagerness to engage with the action on stage in choruses of mutual "ooh"-filled awe.
The almighty cliff-hanger that bridges Parts One and Two. No, you really can’t just see one or the other.
A story which casts you into a gorgeous universe with extraordinary detail and precision. Newcomers, welcome to the sweeping world of Harry Potter, a place of exploding sweets and seemingly impossible transformations, potions and broomstick rides, swishing cloaks and magical beasts, all intertwined with some quite incredible stage illusions performed at breathtaking pace, at one point provoking an audible “No way!” from this theatregoer. Prepare to be immersed deeper and deeper into jaw-dropping spectacle.
And old hats: welcome back. There's everything you could hope for.
In a nutshell?
Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Parts One And Two is a theatrical experience unlike anything you’ll ever have encountered on stage before.
What’s being said about it on Twitter?
A lot! Just be careful, as spoilers are abound... #KeepTheSecrets
Will I like it?
A word of warning, to begin: you will need background references to make sense of the events of this show, so without a doubt non-Potterheads will need to buy a programme (featuring a handy plot summary), read the books, or watch the films beforehand - this is the eighth story of the series, after all. Having said that, you could easily enjoy it solely as a spectacle should you prefer (and there are sure to be plenty of people around who can bring you up to speed).
But, most pressingly, does Harry Potter And The Cursed Child live up to the weight of monumental expectations? With the gaze of the vast, global Potter fan base, as well as that of many a curious theatregoer from across the world, firmly fixed upon the opulent Palace Theatre in recent weeks, can it possibly live up to the unprecedented hype?
Resoundingly, wholeheartedly: yes.
This is a production which, rather than resting on its laurels, instead relishes the challenge with an ardent vigour, reigniting its fans' fervent passions with wonderfully colourful imagination, a heart-warming sense of humour and a terrifically talent-laden - at times mind-blowingly so - catalogue of creative surprises.
Rather than falling back on its reputation, the show instead goes on the front foot from the offset, opting to be epic in scale, while also soaring beyond the traditional confinements of the stage through sheer innovation. In doing so, Harry Potter And The Cursed Child becomes a tremendous theatrical feat in its own right - almost as if it's a product of magical sorcery itself.
Harry Potter And The Cursed Child Parts One And Two is currently booking at the Palace Theatre until 27 May 2017, with a new booking period soon to be announced. An additional forty tickets are released for performances each week through the production’s The Friday Forty offer. Please visit the official website for further information.