About a year ago I picked up the book “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” (this link will take you to our book review) which was a screen play for the production happening in the West End (London). At the time we didn’t have any plans to head to England, but as our summer plans started to come to fruition and I started planning our activities I knew I wanted to try and get to a show. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” (this link will take you to the play’s main webpage) was at the top of my list and I tried to get tickets. This proved to be a bit tougher than I had anticipated.
Tickets for show are selling out minutes after they are released and are tough to come by. I asked my mother in law if she wouldn’t mind snooping around to see if there were ways to get the tickets and by nothing short of a miracle, she was able to get us 3 tickets for the nights we were there. We didn’t get to sit together, but 2 seats were next to each other and my husband was in the same row at the other end. It worked out just fine for us.
When my mother in law called the theater inquiring about the tickets she was told that on a trip into London she should pop by the ticket window. In the mornings, right when they open, they often have tickets that have been returned or exchanged and are available for purchase. She was heading into London and stopped round and was able to get us the tickets. If you are having a hard time online, that is the best advice we can give in getting tickets.
The day before the performance we headed to the West End to see the show “Matilda”, which was an early birthday gift to my son from my husband’s parents. They showed us where we would need to go to find the theater. Despite the construction that was happening directly in front of the Palace Theater (such a shame for our photos), it took my breath away. It is a perfectly gorgeous building that was originally opened in 1891. It has changed hands and performances over the years but has housed some amazing productions including “Les Miserables”, “Jesus Christ Superstar” and the “Sound of Music”. Legends like Fred Astair, Judi Dench, The Marx Brothers and Laurence Olivier have performed on the same stage and Anna Pavlova is said to haunt the theater with several others stars who are no longer with us. The building itself looks a bit like a castle and the interior is intricate and detailed and perfectly stunning.
The play itself it split up over two nights, just as the screenplay book was split into part one and part two. You will want to buy tickets for both nights, and note that the price is per ticket (so double your cost when you see how much they are). We did the shows on back to back nights which started to get a little late for our 9 year old, by the time we made it home again. The shows generally run from 7:30p to 10:15p with an intermission (aka interval). They suggest people line up to enter around 6:30p to get through security, have a drink and to find your way to your seats. They open the doors to seats around 7:00p and the bars are open and ready to take your drink orders as soon as the doors open. In all of the shows I have been to in Oregon I have never see the ability to pre-order your intermission drinks, but this is something you can do at this show. Simply tell them what you want, pay, and you will get a shelf number. When you come out at the intermission, just go to your shelf and your drinks will be waiting for you. I thought it was brilliant – no need to wait in line!
Our seats were located in the Grand Circle which was about 3 floors up. There was an additional floor above us and while the theater seats lots of people it felt very intimate and you felt the history of the place all around you. It was an experience just being there. Cameras and recording devices are naturally banned during the show, but we were allowed to take pictures ahead of time. To the left is the stage just before the first act.
The play starts off exactly where “Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows” ends. It is 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts and Harry and Ginny are seeing 2 of their children off to Hogwarts. Their oldest son, James, has already been attending the school, but this is their middle child Severus’ first year. He is very nervous about the whole thing, but especially about being sorted into Slytherin rather than Gryffindor. Harry and Ginny do their best to put his mind at ease, but his brother is making it very hard for him to be confident. Ron and Hermione are there also, seeing their daughter Rose off for her first year and she and Severus get on the train and start looking for seats.
On the Hogwarts Express they come across a boy sitting alone. Severus decides to sit with him despite Rose’s objections. We learn that boy is a Malfoy named Scorpius and he is the son of Draco and Astoria. The boys connect and start chatting which makes them both feel more comfortable. At Hogwarts the Sorting Hat places Severus in Slytherin House along with Scorpius and the boys become best friends. This is where the adventure takes off and I am not going to spoil the story by telling you more! You will have to read or watch for yourself!
We absolutely loved the show and my son was completely blown away by the whole production. The set changes and various points in the play were completely magical and left you wondering how they did it. I felt like the first night was more exciting than the second night though, with everything being new and different. I had expectations on the second night based on what I saw the first night and it wasn’t quite as exciting because I was looking for things. The actors were lovely and wonderful and I completely adore Scorpius who really steals the show. He is sweet and funny and a complete change from what we normally see with the Malfoy family. He was my favorite hands down.
I had a similar feeling with play as I did with the book that the ending was a bit anticlimactic or flat. I am not sure why I feel this way, but I got the same sense in both and frankly I am not sure what you would change to improve it. That was my only let down with the thing. Maybe I was expecting it because I had read the book before hand – not sure. I wasn’t as enamored with the screenplay when I read it, but seeing the play gave me a much different feel than I had while reading.
All in all we highly recommend the play if you are in London!