27 September, 2016

Two pole dancers go to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - a review of sorts.

We had the worst seats in existence. I knew this would be the case, because upon booking, I was told, "the view from these seats is obstructed". What I didn't realise; was just how bad they would be. On arrival at this grand beautiful theatre, the absolutely perfect setting for a Harry Potter play, we were pointed up more and more staircases. We made a pit stop at a bar, each wall covered in a variety of interesting clocks, before continuing on our arduous journey. Finally we made it to the top, and hitting my target "floors" on my fitbit, we walked out on to the balcony. The room began to spin as I looked down at our seats, and the stage. Vertigo taking over: my hands full of a g&t, a bottle of water, my bag, my jacket. I had to readjust, re-organise, and grab a banister, before slowly making my way down to our seating. One step at a time. The seating on our floor was near on vertical, and each level of the theatre sits directly on top of the one below. I came to feel a little like the Weasleys at the Quidditch World Cup. Yes, I am an "aerialist" who doesn't like heights, go figure!

Regardless of the awful seats; (and who can complain really, at only £15 per play for the cheapest seats) I was excited. For Harry Potter has been a feature in my life for nearly all of my conscious years. I remember, for example, when the book was first released, and my primary school teacher read the first chapter to us. I didn't take a liking to it, funnily enough, and it took great effort some years later to force myself to try again. I thought of it as a boys book, it didn't seem to hold anything that I was particularly interested in at aged 7. As I got older, as an avid reader I disliked the popularity it got, thinking; if everyone likes it, it must be awful; for most people do not read and have no taste. Luckily I got over that stupidity and, for many of my child and teenage years, each year was marked with the release of a book, or a film. The year I turned 21 the final movie was released, and with it, I branded the mark of the Deathly Hallows on my arm for eternity in ink, to mark the ending of Harry and finally my childhood.

Nearly a year on from buying my tickets; I found myself sat looking down at this stage so very far away, my heart full of expectation for the characters and world I had loved so dearly. It seemed, from the audiences reactions, that not many people had read the script prior to arriving. I personally found that it did not ruin the play to have known what was coming, because it was not in what happened but HOW it happened that mattered. The play is in two parts and each part is as long as a normal play. Seeing both plays on the same day felt like it might be a lot, but honestly, it was so immersive I barely noticed I'd spent the day sat down. The first part had me all goosepimply; my arm hairs on end; tears in my eyes; my heart swelling with the magic that played out. In the intervals I was speechless and could only mostly get out the words, "I can't even...what the...huh". Struggling to stop myself from curling up in a ball and weeping with joy.

I want to tell you all about this magic. I want more than anything to break the secret, but we all promised not to. All I can tell you is that what they achieved on that stage was breathtaking. I gasped, I cried, I laughed a LOT, I couldn't figure out HOW THE HELL THEY DID THAT, and when I could it was so seamless and so beautiful that it didn't matter that I knew exactly how it was achieved. Stage magic, that's real magic. That was some serious serious shit, and one particular moment will stay with me, and haunt me, for near on the rest of my life. To think about some of the wonderful moments they produced brings me to tears, even now; some weeks later.

After a short break outside of the theatre; the second part focused less on magic and more so on the story line. Though, don't be mistaken, there were still some amazing special effects. Unfortunately; I am not a big fan of the premise behind the cursed child. As many have said before, it is very much based on fan theory. Fan theories, that funnily enough, I liked very much when they were exactly that. To have them "proved" and made canon ruined them and kind of is lazy writing (get your own ideas goddamn). Regardless the second play was still enjoyable and emotional. I sat on the edge of my seating, leaning far forward - my previous fear forgotten, waiting for the moment when the whole audience would gasp and scream NO! They did not disappoint. But really, the acting is what makes the whole play just perfection.

The movement of sets and people, meant that everything HAD to be flawless or the illusion would shatter. Every actor had to be exactly where they were supposed to be at the right time or it wouldn't flow with everything else that was going on, but they managed it perfectly. They moved with the sets and with each other in such a wonderful way, it just worked. No illusion was broken or shattered, apart from one tiny moment when a trap door was left open a little too long (opps someone no doubt received a telling off for that one!). Considering the high level of special effects, stunts and set movement, it's a miracle that this was the only one mistake.

These actors knew the characters better, I feel, than the actors, I so dearly love, in the films. These characters were the characters I remembered in the books. Ron, for me, was redeemed and warm and funny and ate a lot and it was wonderful, and regardless of the dumb controversy over Hermiones race; she was perfect. I could think of no better person to play Hermione. It did not ruin my preconceived ideas about her, all it has done is expand them and given them a new life. Harry, as an adult and a father, was exactly as I wanted him to be; flawed, struggling along to do his best as always and mostly fucking up.

This play is just an interpretation of a world. Some will ignore it and refuse to acknowledge it as canon, and I get that, but just remember, that to read the script and to see it played out in front of you in all its glory and beauty, are two very different things. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was a perfect continuation of the HP world. No other format or medium would have delivered it in quite the same way. It captured audience imaginations in a way no book or film ever could, and we were encouraged to express and to enjoy, the actors pausing naturally for these moments, so no one missed a thing. We were a part of something special for a day, a long wonderful day. Even with the worst seats in the world; I would do it all over again, and again, if I could. Do not miss out, get a ticket if you can!

There have been tickets released at regular intervals since the first batch. I have no idea if more dates have been added, please check out the website here for more info. Re-sale is through the box office on site, and there is a queue on performance days for these. If you wait you may just be lucky!