February 2020 marks the one year anniversary of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reaching Melbourne. With over 325,000 attendees surging into the Princess Theatre to watch the tale unfold across the last twelve months, the show has been a record-breaking success.
Although it has been on stage since its London premiere for almost four years, official productions are currently only running in five cities in the entire world (London, New York, Melbourne, Hamburg & San Francisco). If you’re suddenly feeling a surge of pride that we live in a lucky corner of the globe with the means to see the show, you’re right to be! Now is probably the perfect time to book your tickets.
The plot spreads another layer of icing onto J. K. Rowling‘s Wizarding World cake by introducing us to the future generation of witches and wizards, post-Voldemort. Harry Potter & co’s kids unleashing havoc on Hogwarts. The unique layout of the performance makes the experience far more memorable and unlike any regular trip to the theatre. The play is showcased in two parts and is recommended to be seen either on two consecutive evenings or in one full day in a matinee and evening performance. This means double the amount of time immersed in the magical universe we were all do desperate to be a part of in our younger years. (And still now, if we are truly honest with our grown-up selves).
If you are yet to see the show, my full analytical review of the production from last year can be read here. Already seen the show? That seemingly impossible stage magical trickery! That Imogen Heap soundtrack! That breath-taking, stomach-churning, gut-wrenching cliff-hanger when the curtain falls after Part One… if you know, you know. Yep. It’s time to go again, and the new cast members filling the stage are not the only reason why.
What draws people into Harry Potter is undoubtedly the magic. Our yearning and hunger for the sorcery of the Wizarding World to be a reality. But the spells and potions alone are not the sole reason for the franchise’s success over such a long period of time. What fixates us is the human connection and emotional touch with reality. The characters. The relationships. Their underlying human experience.
Our lives are host to trauma of all shapes and forms. Mental illness, grief and loss, bullying, work pressure, loneliness and isolation. These are not merely daily struggles of our own lives but also themes within the plot of The Cursed Child. Fans form the ultimate attachment to the books, films and play alike because the world of Potter is built upon people experiencing lifelike trauma. The enchantments may be the most dominant and fantastical attribute of the stories, but it is the vivid and raw emotions that really make people care and feel connected.
If we were to analyse the dark side of the Potter play, it would not be the initial more obvious ideas of Lord Voldemort, Death Eaters and the “Dark Arts”. Delving a little deeper, you may recognise the story of a man living with the mental health repercussions of child abuse and grief. Not to mention his survivor’s guilt of losing multiple loved ones to homicide, war and… fascism? Woah – pretty heavy stuff, huh?
The focus of course, is not upon these traumatising, childhood-destroying ideas. Thank Dumbledore. They are kids’ books after all. Instead, the play centre’s upon the answer to these problems. The emphasis that has circulated from beginning to end of the franchise: Friendship, Love, Kindness & Bravery. These four remedies overcome all in Rowling’s world. And our real, tangible one too.
During one brilliant moment, Draco Malfoy (played by Tom Wren) suggests that loneliness has the power to brew evil. The loss of one’s moral compass. Using himself, Tom Riddle and Ginny as examples of this whilst warning Harry of his son’s questionable future, once again the audience are given an opportunity to relate to the performance. That’s not to say a person suffering with loneliness will evolve into a dictator or Lord Voldemort. But if the “Dark Arts” was ever a symbol for mental illness, here is a perfect example.
This is why seeing the show more than once is so illuminating; it becomes an enlightening experience. The franchise boasts so many more layers than what the surface suggests. If you are lucky enough to see the play again, the parallels between what you witness and your own life experience will naturally materialise. And if that’s not enough, let’s be honest: watching people disapparate on stage in front of your eyes is also a reason to go back.
Last year I rated the show 4.5 stars out of 5. This year however, I laughed harder, screamed louder and even joined the stranger beside me in an involuntary moment of sobbing. I finally got it. The second viewing was even more magical than the first and I couldn’t possibly have enjoyed it any more:
FIVE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Can’t wait any longer? Book your tickets to Harry Potter and The Cursed Child here.
WANT CHEAPER TICKETS? If you’re desperate to enter the Hogwarts gates but your bank account is still suffering from the flights you booked to Bali or the new car you’re still paying off… fear not! Forty discount lottery tickets for the show are up for grabs EVERY WEEK. Find out how to get your mitts on yours here.
The author attended the performance on March 1st 2020