What's on stage in Melbourne?
At long last Melbourne muggles will be able to get a glimpse inside JK Rowling's Wizarding World with their own two eyes: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is headed to the Princess Theatre. After becoming the highest selling play on both Broadway and the West End, Melbourne is the third stop on the Hogwarts Express. The official opening is set for February 23, 2019, but there'll be preview performances from January 18. If you don't know a lot about the play, then here's the lowdown: it's a sequel to the series, based on a story conceived with Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne. It's presented in two parts, which you can watch on the same day or across two consecutive evenings. We won't give too much away about the plot, but audiences can expect to find the gang 19 years on from the Battle of Hogwarts. While Harry himself grapples with the troubles of his past, his son Albus deals with living in the shadow of his famous father. The play won a record-breaking nine Olivier Awards in London and six Tony Awards in New York. It's also received rave reviews from just about every major publication in both cities. Time Out New York said: "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is haunted by death and pain; it is often suspenseful and sometimes downright frightening. Yet amid the cinematic tumult and dazzle of the densely action-packed plot, Thorne and Tiffany carve out quiet scenes of intimacy and tenderness. Great care has gone into creating each moment of this state-of-the-a
It’s possibly a little difficult for Australian audiences to fully grasp the depths of awkward that a theatre show titled Underground Railroad Game conjures for citizens of the United States of America. The Underground Railroad was a Civil War-era network of clandestine routes and safe houses that helped slaves escape into free states from the Confederate South. That it can be made into a game – even for the purposes of education – seems rather perverse, and perverse it turns out to be. The play opens with an ingenious scene involving a slave (Jennifer Kidwell) and a Quaker (Scott R. Sheppard) in a barn just outside of Hanover, Pennsylvania; highly performative, with grand gestures and a heightened performance style, it manages to feel vital and ersatz at the same time. It’s only when this scene breaks and the characters reveal themselves to be middle-school teachers Caroline and Stuart, that we realise the reason for this odd disconnect: teachers, in their need to entertain as much as educate, will always push things too far. Just how far Caroline and Stuart push things has to be seen to be believed. The game they come up with is to reconstruct the basic conditions of the Civil War – by dividing kids (in this case, the audience) into Confederate or Union soldiers, and using dolls to represent the slaves. Union soldiers must secretly ferry “slaves” into a trunk that represents the “safehouse”. Confederate soldiers have to try and stop them. It’s all harmless, as long as you