Trying to #KeeptheSecrets

Almost a month ago now I saw ‘The Cursed Child’ the much discussed ‘eighth story’ is the Harry Potter series. I am so grateful I got to go. And if it hadn’t been for my friend Charlotte online-queuing for tickets TEN MONTHS before, I never would, so thank you C!

It’s in the Palace Theatre near Leicester Square in London. As is my life at the moment everything is happening at once, and I was only home from my good friend’s wedding in Scotland the week before, so I was a little bit stressed about it but it was SO GOOD.

If you’re a Harry Potter fan at all, and the wizarding world has meant anything to you, I urge you to go and see it if you can.

 

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Buoyed from the Warner Bros Studio Tour (excellent! Almost cried in the gift shop wanting to buy everything). We had chosen the two night option (The play in its entirety is about 5 and a half hours long and divided into Parts 1 and 2), you can also choose a Matinee performance and a night-time one. Because we were visiting London, this meant we could sight-see and manoeuvre the Underground successfully on Thursday and Friday visiting the British Museum, eating a very expensive chicken burger, Covent Garden, Westminster, Houses of Parliament, St. James’ Park, Hyde Park and Camden Market. We were knackered. Getting the ‘London Legs’ as my friend Caoimhe aptly called them!

There’s a buzz of excitement around the theatre and a queue forms down the side of the building. About an hour before it begins we have our bags searched and are allowed in to the historical and grand Palace Theatre. It’s impressive in gold and wood and beautiful inside. We sat in the bar area and waited for the doors to open.

I was like a ‘wide eyed child’ from beginning to end as Katie says in her review. The sets, props, MAGIC, choreography and costumes are amazing from the get go. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was totally transfixed from beginning to end.

As I discussed with friends, the plot IS pretty far-fetched even for the Wizarding World and something about it just isn’t true JK Rowling, despite her name being there as a writer beside Jack Thorne and John Tiffany ?

However, if you are in any sense a fan of the Boy wizard, you will love this play. It’s like nothing I have ever seen, and the true essence of the world of Harry Potter is really respected and celebrated with enormous talent.

The original cast had just changed merely weeks before we attended, I am sure the play will run for years and years and have many casts…  The character of young Scorpius really stole the show. I’m doing my best to #KeepTheSecrets here, but I thought Samuel Blenkin as Scorpius was charming, nerdy, and his comic timing was ‘on point’! My other favourite was probably Thomas Aldridge as the ever-lovable Ron Weasley. Rakie Ayola had poise and grace as the wonderful Hermione Granger.

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**PLOT SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ ‘THE CURSED CHILD SCRIPT’**

There was magnificent use of characters facing the audience while confronted with a wondrous sight that we could not and did not need to see. There’s probably a theatrical name for it. Such as Hogwarts in the sunrise, the dragon task of the Triwizard tournament and  Harry’s heart-break as he watches Voldemort enter Godric’s Hollow on 31 October 1991.

People appearing in portraits was done with comedy but also high emotion. Dumbledore is one of my favourite fictional characters of all, and I will admit to crying several times.

There is something of community about The Cursed Child, you almost make friends with your seat neighbours as you sit beside them a second night, ‘Keep the Secrets’ badges are distributed after Part 1, and the internet surprisingly has respected this plea for no spoilers and #keepthesecrets hashtag!

A time turner is vital to the plot, and I always say Prisoner of Askaban is my favourite book because of the time travel aspect. They do this SO WELL in the play. And I suppose all this ‘Nineteen years later’ business (when the play was set. 19 years after the final Harry Potter book, THIS year actually, 1st September 2017) gives a feeling of time travel mixed with nostalgia for the fans.

I finally decided to finish writing this today, as it’s J.K Rowling and also Harry Potter’s birthday today! 31st July, 52 and 37 respectively. Happy Birthday to a woman who created a very happy magical space for me to escape to, and fictional friends for me to love, and to a boy who inspired me and kept me company for a very long time!

#HappyBirthdayHarryPotter

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My Dear Bessie

So, escapism is the thing at the moment. I haven’t got any real way of watching anything so I am reading, reading, reading. Have had ‘My Dear Bessie’ on my shelf for many months. A love story in letters. Set during WW2. Between Chris Barker and Bessie Moore. Exactly my kind of thing, really. It’s fascinating. The pair worked together years previously at the Post Office, and begin writing to each other while she’s going out with someone. Their love blossoms quite quickly and develops purely through their letters, their words.

In September 1943, Chris Barker was serving as a signalman in North Africa when he decided to brighten the long days of war by writing to old friends. One of these was Bessie Moore, a former work colleague. The unexpected warmth of Bessie’s reply changed their lives forever. Crossing continents and years, their funny, affectionate and intensely personal letters are a remarkable portrait of a love played out against the backdrop of the Second World War. Above all, thispreviously unpublished collection is a stirring example of the power of letters to transform ordinary lives.

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The big shame is that barely any of Bessie’s letters have survived, 90% of the book is Chris’ letters, but oh how beautiful they are! They are so constant in this special kind of love. He’s always stationed in Italy and Greece and far flung places from London, where Bessie is.  The frustration, but enduring love is extraordinary.

Even in the 1940s there are lots of dirty bits, and you can see why Chris felt the need to burn letters! They still try to be quite proper though. ‘Tips of your breast’ and ‘your vital vibrant spot’! Feel a bit awful that these were published, poor Chris would be mortified, I’m sure. But even the sex discussion/longing makes it all the more human.

Bessie was a terrible worrier, like me, but she was very intelligent, worked hard and could argue politics and current affairs brilliantly with Chris, and stand up for herself in work and everything.

It’s weird that she had to give up her job when she got married. and some of the stuff Chris says and expects have my inner feminist growling, but it was a sign of the times, and Chris truly cared about her, and knew how happy they could make each other.

You wait with bated breath for them to meet, as it’s so unlikely and waited for, and anything could happen. I wish they still had cause to write letters during these times.

They’re funny, emotional, addictive and a real snapshot of what the war was like. I don’t want to give anything away, but the brief chapters on what happened after are interesting and wonderful and emotional. I hated the letters coming to an end but at the last letter, when Chris was hours away from reunited with his beloved Bessie he signs off:

Dearest, Darling, Only One, thank you for all that you have been to me through these years, and be sure that we shall overcome with our love any difficulties there may be later on. I can never be as good as you deserve, but I really will try very hard, and I know you will help. We shall be partners, collaborators, man and woman, husband and wife, lovers.

I love you. I want you. I need you. ALWAYS.

YOUR Chris

I really was mesmerized. And jealous! I’m so glad they found each other and didn’t have any way to communicate except through ‘LC’ letter-cards. It truly is amazing. A rare, wonderful book and really worth reading if you are a fan of post and letters, and true love.

Scouring twitter during reading I discovered that Benedict Cumberbatch and Louise Brealey read the parts of Chris and Bessie for Radio 4 last year. Oh I don’t know if I could handle it.  I found this clip of Benedict, lovely man, reading one of the letters on youtube.