Friday Arts Diary

Our cultural picks for the week ahead.

Art

Wellcome Collection, London NW1, Infinitas Gracias: Mexican miracle paintings until 26 February

This exhibition is dedicated to the votive tradition in Mexico. Mexican votives are small paintings usually made on tin roof tiles or plaques. They show humble individuals asking a saint for help, who are then protected from sickness, danger or death. More than 100 votive paintings will be displayed, taken from five collections held by museums in Mexico. Other sources like news reports, photographs, film and interviews, make Infinitas Gracias a fascinating and comprehensive look at votives.

Comedy

Soho Theatre, London W1, Eugene Mirman and Pretty Good Friends 7-9 and 12-15 October

According to his website, Eugene Mirman is a "comedian and hero who lives in Brooklyn". Mirman's humour is charmingly silly and he is best-known as Eugene the landlord in Flight of the Conchords. He is also the voice of Gene in Fox's animated series Bob's Burgers. The evening takes a varied format of short films, music, comedy and special guests.

Music

Hammersmith Apollo, London W6, Seasick Steve 8 October

Widely-known as Seasick Steve, Steven Gene Wold is an American blues musician. A winner of the MOJO Award for Best Breakthrough Act, Seasick Steve is a great live performer, famous for his three-string Trance Wonder guitar. Wold is widely-travelled and has lived in 56 different houses in 25 years, and his life experience comes across in his raw blues sound. He will play an array of past material and songs from his latest album You Can't Teach an Old Dog New Tricks.

Talks

The Royal Institution of Great Britain, London W1S, The Biggest IQ Test 12 October

The New Scientist launched a test in October 2010 to measure intelligence. It became exceptionally popular, with 100,000 people across the world answering it. The results of the biggest IQ test of all time show that there is not a single general form of intelligence. Roger Highfield and one of leading neuroscientist Adrian Owen will discuss the results and the influence of age, computer games and other factors on IQ. Standard tickets are priced £10, concessions are £7 and Ri Members are £5.

Theatre

The Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury, Cirque Éloize: iD, 12-15 October

iD is a love story set in a city, made up of exciting circus arts and urban dance. Based in Montreal, Cirque Éloize have performed across the world in more than 30 countries. The first week of their show will be held in the brand new Marlowe Theatre, which opened on 4 October. The project began in 2009 when the old Marlowe Theatre - originally a 1930s cinema - was demolished.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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New Harry Potter and the Cursed Child pictures: an analysis

What do the new cast photos tell us about what we can expect from the Harry Potter play?

With the first public performance only a week away, the team behind Harry Potter and the Cursed Child have released the first in costume cast photos of three of its stars: Harry, Ginny and their son, Albus.

But what do the new pictures tell us about what we can expect from the play? Here’s your annotated guide.

Harry

Harry is suited up like the civil servant we know he has become. When we left him at the end of book seven, he was working for the Ministry of Magic: JK Rowling has since revealed he became the youngest head of the Auror Office at 26, and the play description calls Harry “an overworked employee of the Ministry”. Jamie Parker’s costume suggests a blend of the traditional establishment with Harry’s rebelliousness and familiarity with danger.

Parker told Pottermore of the costume, “He’s wearing a suit because he’s a Ministry man, but he’s not just a bloke in a suit, that’s way too anonymous.”

Ginny

Ginny looks like a mix of the cool girl we know and love, blended with her mother, and a little something else. She has a perfect journalist’s bob (Ginny became a Quidditch reporter after a career as a professional player), paired with a “gorgeous, hand-knitted jumper” reminiscent of the Weasley’s Christmas sweaters. In silhouette, she might look like her mum with an edgier haircut, but with (literally) cooler colours and fabrics.

Actress Poppy Miller said the costume matches Ginny’s personality: “Kind and cool, exactly as I imagined her.”

Albus

Albus’s costume is perhaps more interesting for what it hides than what it reveals – we are given no suggestion of what house he might be sorted into at Hogwarts. This is particularly interesting knowing Albus’s nerves about being sorted: the final book ended with him asking his father, “What if I’m in Slytherin?”. Rowling writes, “The whisper was for his father alone, and Harry knew that only the moment of departure could have forced Albus to reveal how great and sincere that fear was.”

Actor Sam Clemmett said, “This is what Albus wears at the start of the show. I had the idea he was wearing James’s – his older brother’s – hand-me-downs. So I wanted him to feel quite uncomfortable, and be able to play with his clothes.”

His oversized second-hand clothes also emphasise how important the role of family inheritance will be in the play. The only reminder of Albus’s older siblings, they call to mind both his Weasley heritage (Ginny and her siblings were teased for their hand-me-down robes) and the enormous legacy of his father. The play description notes, “While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted.”

Family portrait

Again, this group picture is interesting for absences – there are no Potter siblings here, further suggesting that Albus will be the main focus of this new story. It also continues to place an emphasis on family through the generations – if Albus donned a pair of specs, this could easily be a picture of James, Lily and Harry. Even the posture is reminiscent of the Mirror of Erised shot from the first movie.

An intriguing hint at what next week’s play might hold for audiences.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.