Much has been said about the importance, with this particular play, of Keeping The Secrets.
I agree with all of it. There are things in this production that you simply mustn't know about till you see them happen. I'm even a bit equivocal about the publication of the script in a few days time - but then since most who buy and read it won't ever get to the theatre to see the performance, it seems hard to grudge them this marvellous story in some form.
Because it is, above all else, a great story, and a great Harry Potter story. One could argue that it's actually the best of the eight (now) Harry Potter stories, but I'm not going to do that because spoilers. I can, however, think it. My advice would be, if you are going to see the play, don't read the script. If you think you may go and see the play, don't read the script.
What more can I say? There are a few things, I think, without spilling any magical beans.
First, practical stuff. Get there in good time, but don't be too fussed about this - the doors open an hour before the performance, the queue forms some time before that, but you don't actually need to be seated a whole hour ahead. If you do have some time in hand though you'll be able to browse the merch in the shop. There is also a bag search so to save time avoid big bags with lots of pockets - but that's always good advice in London theatres, they're mostly not roomy places.
Watching both parts in one day worked for us - these aren't two plays, Part 1 ends at a definite "I have to know what happens next!" cliffhanger. But it is a long day.
As to the play itself: I'll be guarded. Here are some random thoughts which in my view don't give away anything. Still, some have said that you shouldn't even read the programme before the play - just a warning!
- There is some familiar stuff, that will settle you in as you return to Harry's world. But the play gives a new angle on it;
- There is a lot of new stuff;
- There is some SCARY stuff - both shocks at what's happened in the plot and outright frights;
- It is really, really well done;
- The actors are terrific - one especially more or less stole my heart and I'm not a sentimental person, oh no;
- The lighting, effects and sound are magnificent. It's HP, obviously there's magic, but it's done in front of you, it's not a film - and it still convinces. And that moment when... oh just wait... HOW DID THEY DO THAT?
- The story has real heart, with well rounded characters. Some who also appear in the books are probably given more depth and seem more real here than they ever did before;
- There is stuff here that will, simply, delight the fans. When we saw the play the audience kept breaking into applause - something I've never heard of before - the dialogue is so alive. Some of it is allusions to the books, yes, but there is also new stuff, new facts, quips, jokes...
- ...it is, in places, very funny - (my favourite line: "Cancel the goblins!") - but some of it is dark humour, very dark indeed, coming from characters' awareness of their faults and vulnerability;
- The play tells a new story, but also completes that in the previous books. It's amazing, looking back, at how this works (and that is one of the best reasons to #KeepThe Secrets);
- At the end, the audience gave this a standing ovation. Spontaneously, unanimously, everyone stood. Again, I've never seen that before in a West End play.
So - beg, borrow or steal tickets, Confund the Muggle in your life if you must, get on your broomstick and go and SEE THIS PLAY.