The ‘eighth story’ in the Harry Potter series was published in 2016, the same year the play began showing in London. The script was written by Jack Thorne, who wrote the story with J K Rowling and John Tiffany. Three years later, courtesy of a birthday present from my mum, I was finally able to see the play. Fans are encouraged to “keep the secrets” so there won’t be any spoilers here, either of the plot (in case you’re yet to read the book) or how things are presented on stage. So, I’m going to be very brief with this review.
Set design: Brilliant. Clever use of a small amount of props and platforms.
Lighting: Excellent, except at a few moments when it was brightly shone into the eyes of the audience in the balcony seats.
Sound: A good variety of special effects sounds and original music.
Special effects: Utterly fantastic, the best I’ve seen in a play. To me, it really did look like magic.
Cast: Very good. A few of the roles were not quite how I’d expected. I think Ron was played too much as an overweight comedy character without real substance. Scorpius had a constantly squeaky voice and was very popular with the audience but he seemed to make the serious moments too funny. Some of the child actors spoke too quickly so I couldn’t understand them. My favourite performances were Harry and Albus. Moaning Myrtle was a hit with everyone.
Choreography: Excellent, with much swishing of cloaks.
Plot: The details can seem confusing at times but I kind of got it. I think. Lucky that I’d read the play, or else I’d be very confused. I wouldn’t venture to guess what proportion of the audience had read the play. There were some gasps at the plot reveals.
Length: It’s too long. I think even the most enthusiastic HP fans would probably agree. The play is in two parts, each lasting approximately 2 hours 45 minutes. So if you see both parts on the same day, that’s a lot of theatre time.
Venue: The Palace Theatre is impressively ornate. We were in balcony seats (very high up) so were looking down on the action but the view was mostly very good. The seats are narrow and closely packed together, obviously made for the smaller and thinner Victorian public. There are security searches before entering the theatre. You can’t bring in your own food and drink, so are forced to buy inside. They’re raking it in – £2.60 for a bottle of water! It was an atmospheric theatre but not that comfortable.
Seeing the play has made me want to re-read it. Definitely worth seeing and an unforgettable experience.