Breaking news: 250,000 more tickets go on sale on 4 August. If you weren't able to get a ticket on the first release, now's your chance. Ticket information from the official website.
SPOILER ALERT: Although there are no plot spoilers and we want to ‘Keep The Secrets’, we do mention some of the characters who appear in the play.
1. Moaning Myrtle (Annabel Baldwin) is just fabulous. She has all of Shirley Henderson’s morose edginess plus a layer of self-referential humour and a touch of girls’-night-out lust that doubles your enjoyment of her terrific scene.
2. Is this Harry Potter and the Seven Signs of Ageing? Professor McGonagall (Sandy McDade) must be using Time-Turner Face Cream. She seemed to be pushing 75 in the final film, yet 20 years later looks barely 50. Her accent also sounds to be from a different part of Scotland. But then, Maggie Smith is from Ilford so she was just putting it on, too.
3. Biggest shock in the whole thing? You don’t pronounce the final ‘t’ in Voldemort. As if he was French.
4. Slytherin dormitories have hospital beds and forest green duvets. Users say this is more ‘restful’ than the red velvet four-posters in Gryffindor.
5. The underlying moral that ‘you don’t have to hate people because your parents hated their parents’ is introduced early on and then laid on not so much with a trowel as a shovel.
6. People die. And not just bad ones. Some come back to life, some stay dead. The concept that it may be OK for decent people to die in a good cause is subtly suggested, but made us think.
7. The prices for drinks and snacks haven’t been hiked, nor is there a hard sell on the merchandise. A tub of Haagen-Dazs is still £3.50, a programme £5 and you can’t buy Diet Polyjuice or a pint of Butterbeer at the bar. ‘Keep the Secrets’ badges are free. If you want the books or a wand, you can stroll up the street to Foyle’s whose foyer has been properly Potterised.
8. Instead of a black pointy one, the Sorting Hat is now a brown bowler. It still does the same job, so we didn’t get why.
9. Although a parent signs a chit so a child may go into Hogsmeade during the third year, no-one does. So no cosy Dickensian scenes in the Leaky Cauldron, Gringott’s Bank, Ollivander’s wand shop or a trip down Diagon Alley. You’ll have to go to the theme park at Watford for that.
10. Ron Weasley is the sexiest character. The other adults are affectionate, but only Ron is seriously flirtatious with his wife, but Paul Thornley’s performance is far and away the best of the adults and you can see a natural trajectory from Rupert Grint’s geeky teenager to the loveable joker and try-hard dad Thornley adopts for the older Ron.
11. Scorpius Malfoy steals the show. From his breaking voice to his occasional breaking of the fourth wall with an aside to the audience, Anthony Boyle is outstanding. He’s shyer and drier than his new chum Albus Potter but develops more during the play while retaining the traits of a wonderfully awkward kid with the mannerisms of Mr Bean. He plays equally well off Albus (Sam Clemmett) and Draco (Alex Price) who’s become much more three-dimensional with age. Clemmett is good, but we think Boyle may be the young actor who first becomes a star.
12. There's a cast of 42, but a production crew of at least twice that, including a set design department of 13 not including the special effects crews, as well as some job titles few productions run to like 'content advisors', 'knitting', 'tattoos' and 'costume prop body paddings'.
13. Lighting and sound design are bound to win every award going — the way the theatre is completely darkened (even the exit signs) for the more chilling scenes is excellent, and there's a projection that seems to make the walls wobble which would be even more exciting if they didn't use it quite so often.
14. Stage design and engineering are also first rate. There are a couple of wires strung across the auditorium, and over five and a half hours maybe the curious will begin to guess how some of the magic is done, it's still endlessly clever and the trapdoors and openings are the least visible and slickest we've yet seen on stage. In fact it's only when something slips — a bedcover on the day we went — that you can see any of the mechanics, and explains how well they used seven weeks of preview to polish the technical effects to a high shine.
15. Half the audiences have never been to the theatre before, but boy are they well-behaved and obedient. Applause and laughter but no X-factor screaming. The 'turn your phone off' announcements are some of the best we've heard - who wouldn't be scared of one particular lady professor - and we never saw the glow of a screen or the flash of a photo. Benedict Cumberbatch would be thrilled.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Palace Theatre, London WC2. Open-ended run. Booking from May 2017-10 December 2017 opens on 4 August with 250,000 new tickets. Ticket information from the official website.
We saw this production on a complimentary ticket.