I am not sure that this review can even being to capture the magic that is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Magic being the operative word. There is so much to this story, play, masterpiece, that it leaves descriptions in the shadows. Coupled with the furious need of the creators’ to ‘#keepthesecrets’, it almost leaves me to wonder what the point of a review is.
However, I will do my best.
Harry Potter’s story is one that captured the imaginations of millions across the world, so I am not planning on going into any detail of the original seven books (or eight films). Any who enjoyed those stories will love what The Cursed Child has to offer.
I am well aware that living in the south-east of England grants me the privilege of going to see this production with relative ease (if we are not mentioning the franticity that went into the procuring of tickets) however, if there is ANY possibility of going to see this before you read the script book then I urge you to do so.
It isn’t just because the storyline is actually the least of the parts of the piece, or that to deny the actors their fantastic portrayal of the characters would be downright unfair or even that the emotive use of music and score would be utterly lost. No, it is because of the completely enthralling effect the performance has on the soul.
Scene changes are performed with grace and flair, which made the pair of girls behind us giggle at its flamboyancy. Without trying to sound too pretentious, they obviously weren’t ‘theatre’ people. If they were, they would have known that flamboyancy is the heart of theatre. It was something that I felt Cursed Child incorporated into its performance seamlessly. Without the chorus executing the scene changes in such a way, part of the magic would have been lost.
Then there was the magic. We were sitting three rows from the front, so the ‘magic’, which in the films is mostly CGI, should have been obvious, but the spells and enchantments which took place on stage were breath-taking. I guess this should be expected with real stage magician Jamie Harrison behind many of the effects. Yet, when certain…. things happened on stage, even though logic told me it couldn’t be magic and how it was probably done, my stomach leapt joyfully with the thrill of it.
The movement and music were also magnificent. At points where the story had a major scene change, the dances performed allowed the audience to transition smoothly, while still telling a part of the story or demonstrating something of the zeitgeist.
But the thing that really sent the play over the edge was the characters. It is no secret that our favourite trio, Harry, Ron and Hermione, return for this story, and that it also features their and Draco’s children. It is said of literature that stories can either be character driven or plot driven. Generally, character driven is better, as unless the reader/audience can identify or sympathise with the main characters, they have little encouragement to find out what happens. Characters is definitely something that JK Rowling perfects. The original cast of the books return, though older, just as beautifully flawed as when we read about them over 10 years ago. Really, it is what makes the play as magnificent as it is. As I mentioned above, the story is the facet which I liked least. At times (especially towards the end) it felt almost as though it were being squeezed in to fit. However, the reactions, humorous quips and emotions of the characters overshadows this and the audience is left to laugh, cry and ‘OMFG’ (you’ll know these points when you see it – the whole theatre gasped simultaneously).
The play is made of four quarters: Acts One and Two, then Three and Four. The second part of Act Three, for me is where the story line started to feel a bit ‘oh.’ Up until that point the story followed one major plot and it seemingly resolves. The last section, ‘the epic conclusion’, almost felt like a separate story line. The whole thing was very, very, long and like most London theatres the seats leave very little leg room (especially for someone as tall as me who cramps if sitting in the same position for longer than 30 minutes). I do think that maybe the last bit could have been left off. However, as the stage effects were still brilliant, and the actors sublime you probably won’t notice while actually watching, and you should certainly not let this put you off seeing it.
I once again urge you, if at all possible, to see the play before buying the script book. You will not regret it. Even though we were sitting in the ridiculously expensive seats, I am assured by my friends who were sitting in the upper circle that it was just as good from there.
N.B. Yes, I KNOW that sometimes AMAZING things happen mid-scene. HOWEVER PLEASE DON’T CLAP. It disrupts the whole show, puts the actors off and loses the emotion of the scene. Often it leaves dialogue to be missed too. SAVE YOUR APPLAUSE UNTIL THE END!