A week ago we took a trip to London to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. My daughter had persuaded me last autumn to get my credit card out on the day the box office opened to secure four tickets for both parts. I put the date in my diary and promptly forgot all about it. But she didn’t. Every few months she reminded me, and as the date approached I caught her excitement. When the script was published last month I hesitated – should I read it first? I’d read all the books before seeing the films. Shouldn’t I do the same for this latest instalment? But everyone I asked said the same thing – see the play fresh, don’t read the script first, it’s been written for the stage, not primarily as a book.
So we turned up at the Palace Theatre with no idea of the story. I’d even abandoned Twitter to avoid possible spoilers. For the first time ever I was about to see a Harry Potter story which I didn’t already know.
We have been a Harry Potter family since almost the beginning. I remember first becoming aware of the hype around the books when they published Prisoner of Azkaban. Soon after, my son – aged about five or six – decided he wanted to read the books. Fabulous idea, but at that age he didn’t have the skills to be able to read them. But I bought the first two books and every night we sat in the kitchen and I read another chapter to him, his little sister occasionally coming to listen. Together we learned about the boy wizard, the horrible Dursleys, a world of strange beasts and moving staircases, about friendships and the pure magic of magic. A family love for the books was born.
When the first film came out we were really keen to go and see it. At three hours is was still far to long for my daughter, so she stayed at home with my husband. Off we went to the cinema. They didn’t do booster seats back then, so my son balanced on the top of the upright seat, eyes huge as they took in the sheer size of Hagrid, the Hogwarts Express, the terror of the Sorting Hat. It wasn’t far into the story when he crept onto my lap to watch from the safety of his mother’s arms.
He’s now six foot two, so creeping onto my lap wasn’t on option on the balcony seats in the Palace Theatre. They were so steeply banked that our feet were almost on the shoulders of the people in the row in front, and the stage so far below that the messy bun of the woman just below us proved a serious obstacle. One guy a few rows ahead was so tall we nick-named him giraffe. But the inconvenience of a slightly obscured view disappeared as the brand new story unfolded. The story picks up 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts and introduces a whole new cast of characters alongside those we already love. The story is gripping and the effects thrilling. If you can get a ticket, go, and go before you read the script.