You may have read my opinions of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as part of the Wizarding World ‘canon’ as the nerds say. If you haven’t, here you go:
Putting aside my problems with the story, the internet now needs my opinion of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as a stage show. The burning question is: why a stage show? My answer: because the stage is the closest thing to magic we have. Other than, you know, magic. Thanks to many DVD extras and behind the scenes featurettes, we know not to believe everything we see on screen. Monsters and Superheroes are created by people worsening their posture over computers. Many Harry Potter fans would have seen the cast fighting tennis balls and petting humans in tight green screen suits. On stage, there are no computers to save you.
As you take your seats the curtain is already up with a floating hat. Pft. Wires. Being in the sixth row, I could just make them out. Even in the back of the upper circle, you deduce how the hat is floating. Enter a smartly dressed gentle who plucks the hat out of the air. The show begins and the rest is a mystery. There wasn’t time to think. Quick changes. Exit left, enter right. Flash. Bangs. Dementors flying overhead. It’s more than a play. It’s a once in a lifetime experience. Every moment had been carefully thought out. Small details from chairs being removed with the flourish of a cloak to the moving staircase of Hogwarts.
However, what I enjoyed most was the characters. I recognised the golden trio from the pages of the book. Hermione was stern, utilising her head and her heart. Noma Dumezweni could do both: the wife of a Weasley and Minister for Magic, as well as hint of mischief that the script called for. Speaking of Weasley, I lost track of the number of times I thought to myself: That’s my Ron. Paul Thornley comic timing could be argued as the second best thing about the whole production. The words were Jack Thorne’s but the delivery was flawless. And finally, Mr Potter. Jamie Parker has become our ‘latest celebrity’ to quote Professor Snape. He captured the frustrations of being Harry Potter, the pains of the past and the weight of the prophecy. I always thought the outburst in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix were totally justified. Fame is a burden and not a desirable state of being.
Fame is just one of the wedges between Harry Potter and his middle son Albus. Played by Sam Clemmett, Albus has a number of shouting matches with his Dad. Like the long suffering Ginny Weasley, it makes you roll your eyes and mutter ‘you’re just so alike’. The whole plot revolves around their complicated relationship which is a shame. You’d think with a play in two parts you’d have the scope to explore any number of characters, new and old. We’d see glimpses of the hidden world of witches and wizards today. We’d know what happened next. I’m happy to report the Potters are also suffering to cut sugar out of their diet but that’s about all I learnt. There are more nostalgic moments than current day events. I was not expecting that and was left disappointed.
I’ll try not to end on a bit of a bum note.
It was almost practically perfect in everyway. A lot of people hold Harry Potter near and dear to their heart and everyone holds it differently. They were never going to please everyone with plot and character choices. But you can ‘razzle dazzle ‘em’. You can make them Ooh and Aah and wonder how it was done. How it possible. Did you see? I must have been looking the other way. But he was just there! I want a fireplace entrance for my office. In a West End heavy with celebrity names and your movie favourites, it’s masterpieces like Harry Potter and the Cursed Child makes you realise the true stars of the shows are the men and women who scratched their heads at a script and said: Let’s make some magic.