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

The magic of theatre is a hard thing to describe. With the right play, the story comes to life and it just works. So, when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – a story with fantasy at its core – makes its way to the historic Palace Theatre in London, one can imagine that the end result is a production wonderfully creative and immersive.

It’s understandable for Potter fans to question how the Wizarding World of Harry Potter translates onto the stage, when there’s certain restraints and no CGI on hand to help. Naturally, Potterheads want to see the Boy Who Lived and his universe accurately portrayed in this new medium. It’s most likely this faith to the story, combined with a curiosity as to how the cast pull off the magical aspects of the plot which has led to hundreds of theatre buffs buying tickets to the play. However, for those who are yet to nab a seat, they can be reassured that the stage has allowed the magic of Harry Potter to be blossom in an entirely different way to the films. Readers who were quick to label Harry Potter and the Cursed Child an embarrassing and cringeworthy fan fiction after the script was released should wait until they have seen the play before they question whether the story should be canon.

It’s a show which makes you recognise the work of those behind the scenes as much as it does of those who are performing. The opening scene throws you straight into the story, which is no doubt helped by Steven Hoggett’s smooth choreography and Imogen Heap’s soundtrack which was stunning throughout. One must also appreciate the use of lighting, too, which certainly helped to set and alter the play’s tone as the story progressed.

The play managed to achieve something which the movies failed to do for me, and that was actually create this feeling that I was at Hogwarts and a part of this world. This is no doubt down to this off-stage and on-stage collaboration, combined with the fact that it takes place in The Palace Theatre, an old building which certainly has a Hogwarts feel to it both inside and out.

Then there’s the actors and actresses. Admittedly, it felt like it took a while before some of the character’s dialogue became ‘genuine’, but one could argue that that was a result of my own apprehension. Nevertheless, Samuel Blenkin delivers an incredible performance as the socially awkward and over-excitable Scorpius Malfoy. Offering both pure emotion and comic relief, Blenkin fleshes out a likeable character the audience sympathises with. When working alongside the talented Theo Ancient (Albus Potter), the two create a tale of friendship that’s uplifting throughout. It’s also worth applauding Thomas Aldridge’s hilarious portrayal of Ron Weasley, Rakie Ayola’s sassy Hermione Granger and Gideon Turner’s performance as Harry Potter, which was exceptionally raw in certain scenes. Yet, as mentioned previously, everyone involved in the production should be given credit for the team effort. The fact that the cast pronounce Voldemort the correct way (Vol-de-MOR) was a nice touch.

However, much like how a magician never reveals their secrets, it would be wrong to unveil all of the technicalities that go into making this play what it is. Audience members were also sent a video from J. K. Rowling after the performance pleading for them to #KeepTheSecrets, so there’s that.

You just have to go and see it, if you’re lucky enough…

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Theatrical Reflections from a Rain-Painted Window

Rain pelts the windows of my Thameslink train as I type this. I’m on my way to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre, and if I was able to see both parts of the play before 7pm, then my review would be up today. As that isn’t happening, I thought it would be worth talking about my experiences at the cinema, and why I’m starting to prefer going to the theatre instead of seeing a film.

An obvious point to begin with is the accessibility of cinemas today. Whilst the one where I live has a few subtitled showings, living with a hearing family with their own schedules has meant seeing films without subtitles (not to mention the fact that most subtitled performances can be shown at inconvenient times of the day). From Marley and Me to Deadpool, I can still laugh and cry at what’s happening on screen, but I miss out on the plot that comes through dialogue. This is probably why it took me so long as a child to realise that TV shows were meant to be listened to as well as watched.

However, to blame it all on accessibility would be unreasonable of me. Another reason is the fact that I’ve always been a book nerd as opposed to a movie buff. Sitting in uncomfortable seats struggling to hear just didn’t appeal to me, compared to imagining the story for yourself from the comfort of your own home.

It’s become a question of time investment. Will it be worth spending two hours concentrating on this movie, trying to hear it? Will it demand my attention or will I get bored? It’s why I now have a certain criteria for a film to meet in full or in part before I decide to see it.

  1. It has received rave reviews.
  2. It contains an actor I like.
  3. It’s based off a book I like.
  4. The trailer looks good.

However, with a play, this criteria doesn’t apply, and the accessibility is better. Granted, there’s still no subtitles (unless you’re seeing a captioned performance) but the audio quality is better. Then there’s the sense of atmosphere in the theatre which can only be achieved in the cinema with a horror movie/thriller or by breaking the fourth wall.

But to revert back to the time investment point, I guess it’s something I’ve had for many years now when you consider some of the film classics I haven’t seen:

Titanic, E.T., Alien, Predator, The Shawshank Redemption, Love Actually, The Great Escape, Forrest Gump, The Godfather, Pulp Fiction, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, Die Hard, Casablanca, 2001: A Space Oddysey, The Back to the Future trilogy, Fight Club, The Terminator, The Social Network, Psycho,  Trainspotting, Speed, Saving Private Ryan, The Shining, Guardians of the Galaxy, Schindler’s List, Jaws, Goodfellas… 

This revelation often has my friends staring in disbelief and firing me shocked or angry looks, but film isn’t really my thing. Perhaps if I have some time to see more captioned performances, this may change, but for now, I’m looking forward to Harry Potter and seeing more plays in the future.

A Thousand Words: A Collection of Exciting Occurrences

As the title of this blog post – a discreet reference to A Series of Unfortunate Events – suggests, this week has seen me plan a few concerts and performances for me to look forward to later this year.

The Hoosiers’ debut album, ‘The Trick to Life’ and their second release, ‘The Illusion of Safety’, both have pride of place at my home.

It started with The Hoosiers on Wednesday. The band, famous for their hits Goodbye Mr A and Worried About Ray, are stopping off in Lincoln as part of their Trick to Life 10th Anniversary Tour. Whilst I was fortunate enough to see them live before, their aforementioned debut album lies signed in a CD rack at home, with memories from a decade ago flooding back to me whenever I listen to it now. So, naturally, nostalgia compelled me to buy a ticket.

Yet, with tickets going on sale at 10am on Wednesday, I had feared that they would sell out whilst I was working. Thankfully for me, they didn’t, but anyone who has bought a gig ticket before knows just how urgent and stressful the buying process can be.

Look no further than later that evening, where a surprise notification on my phone warned me that more tickets were going on sale for a popular freshers event at 6pm. Out of the house, with a recently recharged phone, I remember hitting refresh straight after the clock hit 18:00 to tap on the new ticket link. The tickets were bought, and there was no greater feeling.

Finally, with just under three weeks to go until the big day, my tickets arrived for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. However, anxious about the view from the balcony and whether I may be unable to hear and see the performance, I asked about exchanging my tickets for a closer seat, which a wonderful employee at the ticket company was happy to do for me. I now look forward to sitting in the stalls for the show next month.

Meeting PromptsbyDee

It started on Twitter, where I saw a post from Dee over at PromptsByDee about a Harry Potter-themed day out in London on the Thursday of this week. I love meeting blogger friends in real life and Dee is someone who I’ve wanted to meet for a while now, so I said I would tag along.


We agreed to meet at Platform 9 3/4 (of course) on a day when wizards and witches get the 11am train to Hogwarts. Therefore, the queue to have your photo taken in front of the Platform 9 3/4 wall was understandably long.


What was also interesting was the giant cards of the Hogwarts logo, the Hogwarts Express etc. that had been put up in Kings Cross for people to colour in. It was a promotion for the new Harry Potter colouring in book. I had to have a go and include a shameless bit of self-promotion too.

After a brief look around the Harry Potter shop, we took the tube to go and see the Palace Theatre (where The Cursed Child is showing) and visit Forbidden Planet.

I’m not a fan of comic books, yet I was wrong to assume that was all that was inside the Forbidden Planet megastore. There was a section dedicated to Sherlock products (mostly the odd poster, Pop Vinyls and figurines, which aren’t really my thing) and downstairs there was a whole section dedicated to books based on TV programmes. It was great to see TomSka’s Art is Dead on sale along with comic books about Watchmen, Batman and Deadpool. Whilst I’ll probably never read a comic or graphic novel, a lot of TV programmes or films I watch are based upon one of the two. For example, I love The Walking Dead (based on Robert Kirkman’s comics), Batman and Deadpool (which are of course based on the characters from DC Comics and Marvel respectively).

After that, we then went back to the train station and made our separate ways. I just want to say another big thank you to Dee for letting me wander around London with her for the day. It was great to finally meet you. As you could probably tell by what we got up to, Dee runs a fandom blog dedicated to Harry Potter, Sherlock and more. If that sounds like your cup of tea, why not say hello? Tell Dee that Liam sent you!

Aside from what happened on Thursday, I should also mention briefly that work on my novel has resumed. Although the progress is slow, I’m definitely excited about getting back into writing and I can’t wait to tell the story I’ve been wanting to tell for a long time. As always, I shall keep you posted.

How was your week? Have you ever visited Forbidden Planet or Platform 9 3/4? Have you met a fellow blogger in real life before? Comment below!

Liam

Review: ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ by J. K. Rowling (NO SPOILERS)

Last weekend, a fan base returned to a time of excitement. People could be found waiting outside bookstores and attending midnight parties, waiting for the next insight into the magical wizarding world of Harry Potter. On Sunday, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released to the world.

 In a rush to avoid the spoilers which would inevitably make their way online, I started reading the book on the Sunday afternoon. Before I had started reading, I was curious as to how there could possibly be an eighth story. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows provided a sense of closure, sub-plots were resolved and characters were fully developed. However, after I finished reading the book the very same day, I realised that there was so much more to uncover.

 The key themes from the first seven novels also run through The Cursed Child. As well as this, we see some more questions answered, and some new secrets revealed. The eighth instalment sees a return to a fictional universe complete with magic, mystery and humour. Even when you’re only reading a script, which is, of course, different to a novel, I still imagined ways in which certain plot points could be recreated on stage. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a wonderful return to the wizarding world and the life of Harry Potter, when we thought there was no more stories left to tell. Throughout the book, I became increasingly curious to see how such magic can be translated onto the stage.

Now, to try and get tickets to see the play itself…

Have you read Harry Potter and The Cursed Child yet? Or have you seen the play? What did you think? Comment your thoughts below – but please, no spoilers!

Liam

Harry Potter and My Birthday

So yesterday saw me go to London (well, the outskirts) for the Warner Bros. Studio Tour/The Making of Harry Potter as an early birthday treat. More about that later but TODAY IS MY BIRTHDAY!

Apologies for the all-capitals, but I’m a little excited. I can’t say much at the moment because I’m only halfway through the day! However, I can say that my birthday cake is awesome as it’s a Sherlock themed cake! Woohoo!

Nonetheless I know the rest of today is going to be awesome… Anyway, about Harry Potter!

So we set off to the Warner Bros. tour with Sub Focus’ album, Torus and Capital Cities’ debut album In a Tidal Wave of Mystery playing to pass the time. We arrived insanely early so we went for a quick car wash before arriving early. Oddly enough in the space it took to get park and eventually get in queue, it wasn’t long before we went in!

In the queue itself, there were little things to look at to pass the time. In particular, this quote by JK Rowling that was displayed seemed to make sense to a budding writer like myself…

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And then the tour itself started! I won’t go into too much detail (don’t want to spoil it for all those that want to go), but those who are celebrating their birthday get to open the doors of the Great Hall. I didn’t get to do this – it would have been a bit embarrassing anyway!

Throughout the tour I couldn’t help but marvel at the level of effort that had been put in to make the whole experience as believable and magical as possible. The effort was visible and made me appreciate how important those people on the credits really are.

The great day concluded with a Chinese takeaway. Overall a great end to a great day. Today should be just as awesome!

Liam