It’s been far too many Friday nights spent indoors and away from the luscious velvet curtains of the Princess Theatre and icy blonde locks of Draco Malfoy (Tom Wren). My first foray back into the theatre was one of the best I have experienced, perhaps due to the fact it had been so long between shows, or simply because Harry Potter and the Cursed Child remains the epitome of class, style, fun and visual effects. The eighth instalment of the beloved book, film and now stage play franchise is the perfect return to the theatre for all Melbournians locked away during “the year that must not be named”.
While this fascinating production of blockbuster proportions (and I imagine budgets) has always been spot on with its production values, casting, and stage craft that can only truly be described as magic, this latest production is the best version I have been fortunate enough to see. After several years running in Melbourne, the show to end all shows has ensured Melbourne is still the reigning theatre capital of Australia. The cast are glorious in their roles, Harry Potter (Gareth Reeves), is a stoic representation of the wild child he once was, tied to a desk and desperate to save the world yet again. As much as Harry tries to make the plot not about him, he just can’t help getting involved. Alongside are Harry’s trusty pals Hermione, (Paula Arundell) and Ron (Michael Whalley) who are up to their necks in trouble in no time, only this time Albus Potter (Sean Rees-Wemyss) Harry’s son and Scorpius Malfoy (Nyx Calder) are along for the ride.
The unlikely friendship of Albus and Scorpius, whose parents were enemies in earlier narratives brings a relatable aspect to the play not seen in the earlier books. Yes, they’re wizards, yes they use magic and ride an enchanted train to their castle of a school, but the problems Albus and Scorpius face are not that different from the general woes of high school.
Teenage angst, disapproving parents, unrequited love, all these themes make an appearance, and all are terribly true of high school students. The relationship between Albus and Harry is an authentic representation of father/son struggles and both Reeves and Rees-Wemyss handle the text brilliantly.
Arundell is faultless in her Ministry of Magic robes and has delightful chemistry with both Reeves and Whalley. Wren’s Draco has the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout the performance and offers the character some much needed humility that the books and films were scant on.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is one of the most impressive productions ever created. From set design, music, choreography, casting and performance, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better return to the theatre.
Harry Potter Theatrical Productions presents
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
by Jack Thorne | based on an original story by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne
Director John Tiffany
Venue: Princess Theatre | Spring Street Melbourne VIC
Dates: currently booking until 25 August 2021 – check the website for updates
Tickets: $65 – $225