Theater Review: “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” Opens in Australia
by Amanda Walters
It feels strange that, after three years, #KeepTheSecrets seems to be the primary campaign for the production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. With two scripts, three ongoing stage productions, and an active fandom, I wondered if there were any secrets left. However, after attending the opening night of Cursed Child in Melbourne, Australia, I discovered that the biggest secret is potentially the most documented of them all.
The two-part play has opened in the Princess Theatre, and the city is celebrating. Potter fever grows as you approach the area, with House banners hanging from light posts and the glorious nest we have seen atop the other productions now adorning the historic theater. The theater underwent significant renovations to host the play – Hogwarts carpets now cover the floor, mimicked by wall decorations that surround the space.
As the show begins with simple set pieces, you are absorbed into a world simply full of magic. While the story may let down fans, the staging certainly doesn’t. Harry (Gareth Reeves), Ron (Gyton Grantley), Hermione (Paula Arundell), and Draco (Tom Wren) are all wonderfully portrayed in their own way, not a direct representation of the work of actors before them yet still recognizable as the people we know so well. Particular praise goes to Reeves and Wren, who both brilliantly played between emotion and humor when the story called for it.
The younger protagonists of the story, Albus (Sean Rees-Wemyss) and Scorpius (William McKenna), held their own on the stage. Their dynamic friendship is wonderful as they go through the challenges of the story, bouncing their characters off each other. McKenna’s portrayal of Scorpius is a particular delight and he quickly became the one to watch on the stage.
Altogether, the Australian cast shone on the stage, mastering accents for the most part and beautifully moving together in synchrony through the more artistically choreographed moments.
The show is a visual treat. With magic and effects strongly and flawlessly used throughout, you’ll be left spellbound and enchanted, wondering how they did it and hungry to see more. The stage comes alive with trickery and movement – the use of robes and lighting is breathtaking.
What is the biggest secret that everyone has been told? I did not like the script book at all. It frustrated and angered me to the point that I wished it entirely away – I did not want it in my fandom. And while the story still frustrates me (I could not hold back a few eye rolls and internal groans), the script is just a script and only half complete without the actors’ inflections. Lines that felt wrong for characters to say suddenly made sense, which made beats of the story clearer. And the staging? It outweighs the story itself. The effects and the magic need to be seen and will leave the majority of fans giddy for more.
So while I may not pick up the script and read it ever again, I would certainly embrace any opportunity to see the two-part phenomenon currently gracing our Aussie stages and highly recommend that any Australian Potter fan see it.