This review was based on a preview performance seen on 16th July 2016
Writers: Jack Thorne, J.K. Rowling & John Tiffany
Director: John Tiffany
One of the most anticipated theatrical events for many years has finally been unleashed to the world. Based moments after the Epilogue of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows it follows Harry, Ginnie, Ron, Hermione, Malfoy and Astoria’s children through their journey at Hogwarts while also following the original trio’s lives now and exploring the past Harry especially has had to deal with.
Considering this is just over five hours of stage time the script is well paced and has enough twists and turns to keep the plot running while also not having too much going on.These two plays could have easily become a shambolic and chaotic mess but by stripping everything back the opposite happens. Jack Thorne is a self – admitted ‘Potterhead’ and his references and knowledge of the characters can’t be faulted which also must be partly down to the key role J.K Rowling took in developing the play.
Each actor on stage embodies the characters they play well, many of them double up but their strong characterisation skills mean this isn’t visible and many wouldn’t notice without looking at the programme. The relationships between the characters are something this production relies on heavily on, especially the father and son relationship between Harry and Albus Potter played by Jamie Parker and Sam Clemmett. It’s also almost impossible to leave the production without admiring Scorpius Malfoy played by Anthony Boyle. Noma Dumezweni is versatile as Hermione, going from being very powerful and headstrong to being playful and creative for reasons that can’t be discussed without spoiling the plot.
Some of the stand out contributions to this piece, however, are not the actors on stage but instead the huge talent demonstrated by the creative team. Their contribution to this production makes it so mind-blowingly excellent. The set design by Christine Jones reflects the production values of being simple yet elegant.Set against the backdrop of a bear train station, staircases, suitcases and the most minimal of set pieces are used to transform the audience from one scene to the next within a few split seconds. This is assisted by the concise and clear movement and music by Steven Hoggett and Imogen Heap respectively. It allows the pace never to slow down while also giving the audience much needed time to take in the story that has already developed in front of them.
Almost tied hand in hand with the design are the illusions by Jamie Harrison that are prominent throughout. From some very effective quick changes, mindblowing exits and entrances to some beautiful moments that create a very reassuring sharp intake of breath from the audience.These simple yet excellently executed tricks assist in creating and embodying the world of Harry Potter.
All elements of this production come together to create one masterpiece that lives up the hype. It’s the attention to detail that makes this a very special theatrical element. However, underpinning the special effects, characters and twists & turns of the plot are themes and words that resonate with the audience whether you’re a Harry Potter fan or not.