It was one year in the making.
Remember how we were holed up at the Writer’s Bar at Raffles last year, reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child over copious cups of tea?
Well, a few days after that, a new batch of theatre tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child went on sale, and much as we bellyached over the content of the screenplay, we decided to join the online queue for a shot at the much-coveted tickets… and before I knew it I was on a trip that snowballed into me fangirling all over the UK.
It’s been a couple of weeks since I got back, and I’ve been tackling the pileup in my workload (and my hallway library is in disarray), but I have so many stories and photos to share from this trip, so let me start with this one.
It was the 26th of July in London, rainy as always, and we had tickets for both parts of the play on the same day. It was still quite surreal to pick up the actual tickets from the box office that morning, because getting these tickets online last year was no small feat. We wanted to get the closest paired show we could to July 31st (Harry’s birthday, of course), and we were in the thousands queued for tickets online, but luckily the sale went through. And that very morning, a dozen people were lined up around the corner of the box office, still hoping to score return tickets because all the shows are sold out for the season.
House of MinaLima
After a morning spent exploring the National Gallery and a lovely lunch at Lantana Cafe in Fitzrovia, we were ready to lose ourselves in a day full of Potter.
We had time to kill before Part I, which was perfect, because we wanted to visit the House of MinaLima in Soho, just around the corner from the Palace Theatre.
MinaLima is the duo of graphic artists Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, best known for their work on the Harry Potter franchise. The House of MinaLima is a multi-storey gallery and shop featuring their works.
The exhibition is free, and nothing short of amazing. Here’s a look inside:
I am not a fan of the Harry Potter film franchise (although I must admit, I am enjoying Fantastic Beasts immensely!), but it’s undeniable that the production values are stellar. MinaLima’s work for the franchise has been crucial in establishing the look and feel and character of the film series, down to the last newspaper headline, even the smallest sweet wrapper. They’ve also drawn the spotlight on the impact of graphic design in visual narrative on such a massive scale, forging the path for other graphic artists and illustrators.
I wanted to buy a ton of merch, but we weren’t halfway through the trip at this point, and my pocket money was already earmarked for so many things. I couldn’t resist splurging on this beauty, however, because it was a signed copy, and one of the two left in the store that day (Dianne got the other one, of course). Review to follow!
House of MinaLima
26 Greek St., Soho, London
After MinaLima, we were ready to join the queue at the Palace Theatre to watch the play. And watch it we did, for about six hours, with a three-hour interval (wisely spent having dinner at Covent Garden’s Dishoom) in between parts.
Honestly, the reason we booked the tickets were because we were hoping it would provide a different perspective on the screenplay, perhaps because it was meant to be watched instead of read. I didn’t mind having read the screenplay before I got to see it — I don’t think I would have been able to deal with my dismay over the material if the stage was the first time I encountered it. I’m actually glad I’ve had sufficient time to get over how I felt about the screenplay to go into the theatre and experience it in a different way.
Watching it still did not make me any fonder of the material (I didn’t expect it to, anyway), but the staging does go a long way towards providing the spectacle (ooh, shiny!) that the book isn’t able to get across. I won’t spoil it for anyone who means to watch, but they really pulled out all the stops for a magical experience, and it does register so much better onstage than on the printed page.
That aside, watching Cursed Child still made a lovely memory, one of the many that will make this trip difficult to top. I watched the play with my cousin Dianne and friends Mika and Carl, all of whom I’ve shared many a Potter memory with. Having been fans for so long, it’s just indescribable to have been there, just in time for the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Palace Theatre, Shaftesbury Avenue, London
I hope you enjoyed reading this, because there’s a lot more to tell — we had quite a bookish itinerary packed with Harry Potter… and then some! And a there’s a little giveaway at the end of these chronicles, so do come back soon to check out the next entries in this series.