Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at The Palace Theatre

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

“A magical experience”

Despite the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child coming out in 2016, I literally didn’t know a single spoiler, so in keeping with the show’s famous hashtag #keepthesecrets, this review won’t give anything away. I don’t want to ruin anything so that everyone has the opportunity to go into the show with fresh eyes as I did. If you want some more in-depth opinions please feel free to contact me, but I won’t be publishing anything that spoils the show’s narrative or its production.

Jonathon Case, Mark Theodore and the cast of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

I have been a massive Harry Potter fan since I was a child. While I didn’t read the books before seeing the films (sorry!!) I was absolutely in love with the magical world and wanted more than anything to go to Hogwarts. As a proud lil Hufflepuff who was sucked into Harry’s world along with half the nation, Harry Potter was a massive part of my childhood, teenage years, and inevitably my adulthood. So, when this lil bean got given tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for her 21st birthday, that in itself was magical.

After having got ourselves into the theatre, bought a programme, and got comfy in our seats with wine and cider, we were ready to be blown away. And I would be lying if I said I wasn’t. This show was without a doubt the best theatrical production I have ever seen in my life. Due to technology, creativity and ingenuity today, almost anything is possible on the stage. The magic was out of this world, from using a wand to tidy up some papers on a desk (to which my reaction was WOW!!!!) to duels, magical creatures, and the use of spells we all know and love, such as Wingardium Leviosa, Expelliarmus and Stupefy, this production was something else altogether. I have never felt so immersed in the wonderful world of Harry Potter as I did for those 5 hours watching everything come to life as I never could have imagined.

Jamie Ballard in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

The sets and production of magic was magic in itself; the effects were as good as on the screen, and by this, I was blown away. The costumes too were great, featuring some classic and recognisable ones from characters we all know. The ways in which some choreography was incorporated with the swishing of capes and wands was a spectacle to watch.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Unfortunately, this is where the wonder stops for me. The plot was full of holes, was beyond belief and by the end, laughable. Some of the conclusions made no sense and seemed as if the writers watched the first few films and wrote the script from there, without a proper understanding of the characters. In addition, despite having 5 hours to tell this very dragged out story, some important explanations were rushed and unclear.

The plot of the part 1 was unoriginal, uncreative and, while entertaining, not attention-grabbing. The plot of part 2 attempted to tie too many story lines together and I have never left a theatre with so many questions in all my life.

There is also no need for this show to be over 5 hours long in two parts. As a massive Harry Potter fan, I loved the number of references, characters and small plot lines that the play referred to from the 8 films and 7 books we all know and love, but there were times where the inclusion of these was just to prolong the story and justify its double-part (and double-cost).

The sets were fantastic but there were simply too many of them and each scene change was dramatically long. I appreciate that the wonderful world of Harry Potter is not just limited to one location and the creative team needed the different sets to tell the story as best as they could, but the scene changes seemed to be every four minutes and meant I found it hard to get into the story when I was constantly thrown from one scene to the next.

Franc Ashman, Thomas Aldridge and Jamie Ballard in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

What also irritated me slightly was the moral messages that were thrown around in the show. While we all know that J.K. Rowling is a massive advocate for kindness, as a massive part of the original Harry Potter is the power of love that saved the boy who lived, more moral messages were being shoved down my throat, along with 6 other narratives that didn’t make sense, and I didn’t know where to focus my attention.

The acting too, I found not to be great, but this could be because I found the characters to be unrealistic and not in keeping with the character personalities. Stand out actors to me, however, were Jonathon Case as Scorpius Malfoy, Susie Trayling as Ginny Weasley/Potter and Mark Theodore, April Hughes and Eve Ponsonby as characters I don’t want to mention for fear of spoilers!!

Jonathon Case in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Despite the messy plot and irritating constant scene changes, I would still recommend this show to Harry Potter fans. It was definitely not my favourite show but it has to be one of my favourite experiences. As I said at the beginning, I was definitely wowed throughout the production and every time I thought I had seen it all, the production and creative team brought something even more impressive out.

I think that if you go into the show knowing that the plot isn’t much but the production is fantastic, then you might enjoy it more than I did. I have to say while I did enjoy it, I was disappointed in the plot and disappointed that producers and writers let this plot be produced and charge an arm and a leg for audiences to watch it.

The Palace Theatre is as grand and magical as the production of this show, a perfect location for a magical experience.


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