Above – Nyx-Calder. Cover – Jessica Vickers, Nyx Calder and Ben Walter. Photos Michelle Grace Hunder

Based on an original story by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, and written by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child represents the eighth instalment in the Harry Potter legend. Picking up the story nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, in which Lord Voldemort (aka Tom Riddle, You-Know-Who, or simply He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named) was defeated, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reinvigorates the legend of the boy wizard for a new generation. Indeed, while Harry, Ron and Hermione feature heavily in this new adventure, it is in fact their children who drive the narrative, building upon and expanding the Potter universe.

Harry, now grown up, is dealing with the ‘reality’ of life in a 9 to 5 job with the Ministry of Magic, oblivious to the anguish of his teenage son, Albus, who has been forced to grow up in the intimidating shadow of the great Harry Potter. But if Albus feels the weight of expectation on his shoulders, his new best friend, Scorpius Malfoy – the son of Harry Potter’s one-time nemesis, Draco Malfoy – carries some serious baggage, with rumours swirling about the identity of his real father. To say much more, is to say too much, but as you can probably gather, some prior knowledge of the Harry Potter universe would be a distinct advantage, as there are numerous references to incidents and characters from earlier episodes. Indeed, the main thrust of the story is an attempt to right the wrongs of the past, which provides plenty of scope for us to revisit our favourite moments and characters from the original series.

Notably, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not adapted from a book but rather was conceived as a live stage production from the ground up, and indeed it is the very liveness of the production that is central to its appeal. Unmediated by CGI or tricks of the camera, the magic on stage is handled brilliantly, and feels all the more real because it occurs seemingly in front us. Of course, the theatre has plenty of tricks of its own, and no doubt the magic on stage is a result of much visual sleight of hand, but experiencing the Death Eaters in the flesh – to take one such example – is quite a different experience from seeing them on screen. There is little to compare to the thrill of being deceived by your very own eyes.

The performances throughout are strong, Gareth Reeves as Harry, Michael Whalley as Ron and Paula Arundell as Hermione are instantly recognisable as the characters we know and love, albeit a little older and more world-weary than when we first met. Similarly, David Ross Paterson as Snape and Natasha Herbert as Professor McGonagall effectively conjure the mannerisms and accents of their cinematic counterparts. But it is the friendship between Albus and Scorpius – and the excellent performances of Ben Walter and Nyx Calder respectively – that lends the show its emotional weight.

This Australian production has been playing in Melbourne since January 2019, and was the first production to open outside of the West End and Broadway. Even before the launch of this new ‘reimagined’ version (and notwithstanding frequent interruptions to the season as a result of multiple COVID lockdowns), Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has already sold more than one million tickets, more than any non-musical stage play in Australian history. Originally presented as a 5-hour epic over two parts, this new version condenses the action into a single performance and a more user-friendly (and presumably tourist-friendly) three and a half hours running time.

For fans of the Harry Potter series, the temptation to see what becomes of their favourite characters in the not-too-distant future will no doubt be irresistible. But for everyone else, the spectacle alone, and the sheer magic of theatre, makes Harry Potter and the Cursed Child a must-see.

Event details

Sonia Friedman, Colin Callender, Harry Potter Theatrical Productions and Michael Cassel present
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
by Jack Thorne | based on an original story by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne

Director John Tiffany

Venue: Princess Theatre | 163 Spring Street, Melbourne VIC
Dates: currently booking until 16 October 2022, however new seats are released frequently. Check the website for updates
Bookings: www.harrypottertheplay.com/au

 

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