4 out of 5 stars
Bringing Harry Potter to the stage is an epic undertaking and I am happy to report that the staging and cast exceed expectations and have created an outstanding production.
The magic is magical (there were more than a few moments when I could not work out how they had performed various illusions) and the cast work brilliantly with the script. Anthony Boyle and Sam Clemment as Scorpius and Albus are the lynch-pins of the production and are both wonderful, giving us two characters who steal our hearts, make us cry and also create some of the funniest moments of the shows. Jamie Parker gives us a highly believable older Harry, with an aching vulnerability that is palpable, and Alex Price pretty much steals the show with his version of Draco Malfoy, with some of the best one-liners in the script. Noma Dumezweni and Paul Thornley did amazing work with the versions of Hermione and Ron that the script gave them, creating a very believable dynamic between them. Unfortunately the script in no way captured the Hermione and Ron that I had found in the pages of the seven books, even allowing for the years between, and so I was left feeling a little cheated that two such talented people had been short changed in the characters they were playing.
You may be able to tell from the above that I was not all that happy with the story. To be honest if I was rating the shows on script alone they would have been given a 2 or 3, however the sheer brilliance of cast and crew and the simply astounding staging meant that I could do nothing less than give it a 4. I’m not entirely sure what JKR was thinking when she decided that this plot was the one she was going to go with for the Cursed Child and I’m not sure I want to know. I have read far, far better plotted fan fiction and in all honesty, if I’d come across this story on a fan fiction site I would probably have given up two pages in.
There is no way to discuss the problems I had with the script in a public forum without giving away the plot of the play and I really wouldn’t want to spoil anyone else so I’m not going to. I will say that my issues with the story stem from my personal history with the Harry Potter books and the Harry Potter fandom and I fully expect many people to disagree with me about the merits, or lack thereof, of this eighth story. I truly hope that the majority of the people who find the time and money to go and see this play are able to enjoy it solely for what it is rather than, like me, leave the theatre longing for what it might have been rather than what it was.
That said I absolutely would not have missed this experience for anything. The staging added a new dimension to the Wizarding World that lives in my head and every single member of the cast were outstanding and brought the script that they were working with in alive the best way possible. There were many moments in the second half that reduced me to tears and although I could not agree with one of Harry’s final assertions I could still appreciate the messages that underpinned the play; that you stand up for what is right regardless of how many times you’ve had to do so before, and that whilst good people can make really bad mistakes it is how you fix the mistakes and learn from them that matters most.
In the end it didn’t matter how many plot holes I could see and how disappointed it was in the main plot twists, this play still touched my soul in a way that only JKR and Harry Potter can. The magic certainly lives on and I’m very glad I experienced it.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child currently has an indefinite run at the Palace Theatre and you can find out about ticket availability and everything else you could want to know about the play at their website here.