Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has arrived at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre and it is arguably the hottest show in town. It’s an unmissable production for Harry Potter fans and it is the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage.
At the moment the show is open in Melbourne until 1 December but it’s anticipated that it will run for several years, similar to its London West End and New York Broadway counterparts.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. The play goes for two parts – the first is 2 hours 40 minutes, the second is 2 hours 30 minutes. To see the full story it is really imperative that you see both parts, and ideally on two separate nights (or at a push, one part after the other on the same day). It is simply not the same experience if you skip a part or there is too long a gap between parts.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tells the story of Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger nineteen years after the end of the last book Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the Battle of Hogwarts. The trio, along with Draco Malfoy, are now parents to another generation of Hogwarts students as we are introduced to the two main protagonists in the play – Scorpious Malfoy and Albus Potter.
The storyline is convoluted – there is a lot of time travelling – and to be honest lacks a bit of the magic of the books. The dialogue, particularly in some of the more introspective moments, sounds stilted. I do enjoy the friendship between the two boys and there is quite a bit of humour to lighten the script.
However, what makes the play remarkable is seeing the world of Harry Potter come to life on stage. It’s a more immediate and visceral experience than watching the films on screen. The audience audibly gasps and sighs in awe and claps spontaneously when a particularly magical effect occurs.
The set design, lighting, sound design and magical illusions make the show a must-see even if you’re not a Harry Potter fan. Granted, to understand most of what’s happening you’re going to have to be pretty familiar with all things Harry Potter. There are constant references to characters, places and incidents in previous books. But if love theatre you’ll see effects that you’ve never seen before!
I don’t want to reveal too much about what happens but if you’re thinking of taking children to the show it’s worth knowing a few things first [spoiler alert]:
- Dementors appear at the end of Part 1 and several times in Part 2 to suck out souls. The sound is very loud, the lighting is very dark and the overall effect is scary. Reading about Dementors is a completely different experience to seeing them approach you in your seat!;
- A minor character is killed;
- There is some violence, but it’s mostly of the magical kind;
- Voldemort and his creepy death-mask face make an appearance;
- There’s lots of discussion about the death of Cedric Diggory from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry’s parents being killed by Voldemort.
Other things to do note is that if you’re in the Dress Circle or Upper Circle you will not be able to use the theatre’s seat cushions. This means 8yo Lady AB spends all of Part 1 sitting on my lap – fortunately we are sitting in the last row of the Dress Circle (Row H) so there is no one behind us. At the theatre’s discretion, you may be able to BYO seat cushion if you’re sitting in the last row or another location that won’t obstruct someone’s view.
When you’re in the foyer take note of the Harry Potter themed renovations in the carpets and the lighting!
The merchandise stand is very cool but as you’d expect, very expensive.
It’s worth getting the program for $25 but otherwise I think set expectations beforehand as to whether or not you’ll be buying merchandise. Also remember Melbourne has its own Harry Potter store – The Store of Requirement!
I recommend Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for children 8+ years. It is very long and very late and two nights in a row requires some stamina, even for me. Also, a younger, shorter child may simply not be able to see beyond adult heads, and 95% of the audience are adults.
Note that there are no children’s ticket prices, which makes it a very expensive ticket if your child falls asleep, disrupts other people such that they need to leave the theatre or cannot see the stage. If you score a Friday Forty ticket then maybe consider it!
Click here for the best Harry Potter experiences in Melbourne
Click here for my tips on visiting the theatre with kids.
- Suitable for 8+ years as the show is in two parts, with each part being 2 hours 40 minutes and 2 hours 30 minutes respectively;
- We sit in Row H 17-18 in the Dress Circle and have good views. Being in the Dress Circle means that we don’t see the very top of the Dementors on stage, which for Lady AB was a good thing. It also means that Lady AB could sit on my lap to see over adults’ heads as there was no one behind us;
- If you can don’t bring a big bag. All bags are checked and big backs take up more time. Also the seats and legroom are pretty tight so you’ll need to cloak them.
- Ask for a seat cushion for shorter children if you’re in the stalls;
- Merchandise stand is expensive. Buy a program $25 and then to save money BYO treats!
- Princess Theatre is accessible via public transport (train, tram). We take the train into Parliament and then leave via taxi to make a quick getaway and straight to bed! There is limited paid 2 hour parking near the theatre until 8:30pm. So if you arrive by 6:30pm and pay for 2 hours the parking restrictions end at 8:30pm.