Potter fans worldwide anxiously await the release of the eight installment of the ‘chosen one’s’ tale in literary form, but for a select few the latest Harry Potter story has transfigured itself into one of the most anticipated stage performances of all time. As one of the lucky ones to see the show towards the end of previews, I am bringing you my humble opinion of this fantastic piece of art, largely spoiler-free for those yet to read the script and see the show (although if you want the full version, spoilers and all, you can read my other post here).
The play is the eighth story in the much-loved Potter saga; set 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts and the defeat of Voldemort, Harry’s children are off to Hogwarts. Youngest son, Albus Severus struggles with his dad’s famous legacy while Harry himself finds life as a father and overworked ministry employee bringing new challenges. ‘As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.’
Many may have thought J.K. Rowling was stepping out of her comfort zone by putting Potter on the West End stage, but the fact of the matter is, she has found a new forte. Together with Jack Thorne’s effortless writing and John Tiffany’s masterful direction, what has been produced breaks the boundaries of traditional theatre while staying awesomely true to Harry’s legacy.
Don’t be mistaken into thinking this is just two plays for Harry Potter fans. Although a knowledge of the books or films is certainly needed to follow the intricate plot details, someone who has never turned a page of a Potter book in their life can still appreciate the clever humour and the stunning special effects on show. There were moments I didn’t think could possibly be created on a stage which just shows how groundbreaking the plays really are, and that’s before we start considering the incredible cast that bring the story to life.
Lead by Jamie Parker as Harry Potter, Paul Thornley as Ron and Noma Dumezweni as Hermione, the cast proves their worth from the first moment. Jamie portrays a version of Harry that’s far from Radcliffe’s: matured and reserved but still raw with his emotions. Paul’s comedic genius cements Ron’s legacy and Noma is simply radiant as Hermione, with her stubborn intelligence and care shining through the performance. However, the real stars of the show are Sam Clemmett as Albus and Anthony Boyle as Malfoy’s son Scorpius, whose importance you will learn later on. Anthony in particular is a real ‘one-to-watch’.
I think we really have found the pinnacle of this decade’s West End theatre. The hype is to be believed – the plays have everything you could wish for, as a die-hard Harry Potter fan or an avid theatregoer. Setting the Potter element aside, the plays stand alone as innovative and witty pieces of art, yet the addition of the much-loved wizarding world adds the emotional pull that makes this story complete. The magic really has come to the West End stage!
Not managed to get your hands on tickets? Try the Friday Forty, each week at 1pm, where you have the opportunity to buy last-minute tickets for both plays for just £40. Full information on the official website.
Photo credits: Manuel Harlan & Charlie Gray