It happened. It finally happened. Way back when when the first lot of tickets went on sale and I was sat in the middle of a lecture, not feeling particularly lucky enough to even warrant trying that hard for them. And then, much later, having a pre-drink alone in my bedroom and experiencing that early onset of tipsy-ness, finding available tickets for the most nose-bleed inducing of cheap seats. But I’d found them, and with Part One and Part Two on the same day, too! Seeing it, no matter how horrendous the seats may have potentially been, was all that mattered to me. But it was a long, long wait after the initial previews before I myself, and my uni chummy Lauren, would be seeing it. I even had to deal with the difficult task of not reading the script, which was published and released before my date, and ruining my initial experience of ‘Cursed Child’ for myself. It was a looooong wait… But on the 28th September, I finally learned exactly what the eighth Harry Potter tale was all about.
Warning: Mild spoilers may follow.
I need to start by saying that nothing could distinguish how utterly excited I was about seeing ‘Cursed Child’. The reviews of the stage show itself were good (not that I actually read any of them — I wanted to see the story unfold with complete fresh eyes), but I was also aware of the bad ones once the script was released. Still, there wasn’t time between all my Harry Potter feels to allow for me to worry it would be as awful as some were saying. I needed to see it for myself and I knew, regardless of how ridiculous or completely off course it might inevitably be, I was going to completely love it.
That much is true. I loved it. Once again, not unsurprisingly, I was entirely swept away by the magic of Harry Potter and how it always feels like coming home basking in JK Rowling wonderfulness. The special effects, set, costume and actors were entirely other worldly. Some of the various spells and scene transitions happening before my eyes genuinely had me questioning the legitimacy of actual fully-fledged magic being a thing. (Let’s be real, we’re all kind of hoping HP in itself is some outlandish plan of the government’s to conceal the fact we are all muggles living in a wizard (and witch’s) world. It was all completely outstanding, leaving me gaping about 99% of the time.
I also have to applaud the actors (which you know I did, of course. Standing ovation, baby!). Film and TV actors are incredible in their own rights, but there’s something so much more vulnerable and raw about being up on stage taking part in live theatre. There aren’t second chances once the curtains are up, no one to yell “cut!” and ask for a do-over. And I know these are highly trained individuals who spent hours and hours rehearsing, but I still manage to get blown away each and every time I see something at the theatre.
What’s more, these actors were trying to fill some pretty big shoes. Sure, it’s almost certain that Jamie Parker (who plays Hazza P himself) is taller than Dan Rad and therefore has bigger feet physically… But mine, and the rest of the HP fandom’s, love for Dan, Rupert and Emma as the golden trio is pretty deeply rooted and, although there was an aspect of going into ‘Cursed Child’ with no prior preconceptions, it was definitely no easy feat for them to take on those roles. But they smashed it. Completely and utterly smashed it.
Parker’s portrayal of Harry post-Battle of Hogwarts felt so right. It would be pretty naive to assume any of those involved in defeating Voldemort would walk out completely unscathed mentally, so it was somewhat reassuring (in a weird way) to see that Harry is still very much haunted by his past 19 years later. Noma Dumezweni — all I really need to say is slay. She was everything Hermione was destined to be and I loved that she was able to offer some much needed POC representation to the cast and ‘Harry Potter’ as a series overall. And Paul Thornley? My sides hurt from laughing so hard, so I think that’s a pretty good indication of how fab he was as our beloved Ron Weasley. It also goes without saying that Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy (played by Sam Clemmett and Anthony Boyle) were equally wonderful and took such a huge responsibility to continue the story of ‘Harry Potter’ and take it so easily in their stride.
As for the plot. Well, as I said, I was pretty swept away with the magic of the entire production and, with little to no knowledge of what the eighth story would entail, I was left gasping repeatedly as each twist and turn was taken, each secret unveiled. I loved ‘Cursed Child’ and the idea that, realistically, all was not well for everyone involved in the Battle of Hogwarts. Needless to say Albus and Scorpius have found a special place in my heart — especially Scorpius, the beautiful blonde haired nerd. (Also ship the two of them quite hard, ngl.)
I am completely enraptured by the theatre world (if you couldn’t already tell), so to see two things I’m a fan of amalgamated together was truly a sight to see and I do think, to an extent, a lot of the issues found in the story are made up for in the effortless, whimsical way in which it is delivered on stage at the Palace Theatre.
That said, the idea that this is the eighth story in the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise doesn’t entirely sit well with me. There are aspects of the story that, for me, just do not seem to fit with the characters we’ve come to know so well across the initial seven books. And, as bittersweet as it was to see certain characters again, I did feel they were better left alone. Their endings were fitting at the time, so to have them come back again, kind of out of character made it seem a little messy and took away from the tragedy of their death. I’m trying to be subtle, but I’m talking about Snape here. We all knew I was talking about Snape. Yeah.
I would also have to agree that a lot of it did feel very much like fan fiction. The main plot twist at the end just did not feel canon, although I completely called the whole Bellatrix/Voldemort… thing. I’m not sure if, in some twisted part of my mind, I thought that was something that could happen and actually have grounds to make sense, or if, when the idea was presented to me in the form of the play, that seemed to be the best, somewhat jammed in like a puzzle piece, fit. It was an amusing, gross concept to imagine, to be honest.
I’ve yet to make my way through the script, so I don’t have a star rating as of yet. However, as an indication of what happens next, there are some shining lights in the story, namely that all important afermath and the next generation of Potters and Weasley-Grangers alike. Still, I’m not sure it’ll ever integrate itself into the canon Wizarding World, for me at least. Lastly, though, I will say that of course a script can never live up to its full potential until it’s on stage. Reading it on page will never be the same. But the play itself truly was incredible and pushed the limits of real life, tangible magic.