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7 December 2017

My Thoughts and Feelings on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child | Blogmas Day 7


If you somehow missed it being plastered all over my social media (if  you’re not following me, why not!?!?!), this week I went up to London to watch Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. We bought tickets back in November 2016, and they’re notorious for being gold dust. Being the huge Harry Potter nerd that I am, I couldn’t have been more excited. The night before, I lay awake in anticipation for the next morning, like a child waking up on Christmas Day.

The Palace theatre itself is breathtaking. Huge marble steps take you up towards the balcony and dress circle, the stage and seats a monumental compared to many of the smaller theatres found in the West End. In itself, the theatre seems to be made for a show like Harry Potter, with an essence of magic within its walls for all those passing through its doors.

The play is split into two parts, part 1 and part 2. And whilst there is a lot of scepticism surrounding the exploitation of fans, having watched it, there is no way to contain what is in essence a spin off book, into one show. Not unless you wanted it to be 4 hours in itself, in which case you’d still be looking at prices of £100 and up. The break between the shows, which we watched in the same day, gave us time to talk about what we’d seen and how ABSOLUTELY MAGICAL IT IS because let me tell you, the stage effects are literally out of this world. 

Growing up, my mum worked in the theatre and her best friend worked in film, which meant I was exposed to a lot of behind the scenes things. I would watch performances when I was 9 and know how they made people disappear, or watch a show at 15 and roll my eyes at people gasping. The Cursed Child blew my mind. People were disappearing and reappearing, shooting up telephones and disappearing from their beds. Even if you hated Harry Potter, had no interest in the theatre and loathed every aspect of the play, I don’t know how you couldn’t walk away with huge respect for the cast and crew for pulling off a performance which, whilst you were in it, made you forget you were in the muggle world. 

Whilst it was fantastic in all of this, there were elements which I was let down by. The first mistake I made was not reading the book of the script, thinking it would spoil what I was waiting for. I went into the theatre completely blind to what was about to happen, but knowing JK Rowling cowrote the script and the plot, I figured I was in safe hands. However, The Cursed Child isn’t, as is widely advertised, the next chapter of Harry Potters life. It’s a new chapter of Albus Severus (Harrys middle child who we meet in the final chapter of the seventh book), which would have been absolutely fine with me, if it wasn’t for the fact it was advertised as being an extension of Harry. Whilst Harry, Ron and Hermione are all heavily featured, as are many of the original characters, it revolves around Albus Severus and Scorpius Malfoy. I can’t comment on the plot too much without giving away spoilers, but I felt like it went full circle and ended almost exactly as it started, which I’ve never been a huge fan of in any medium. This, though, also added to the lack of ‘the next chapter of Harry Potter’ because the majority performance takes place in a very short space of time rather than giving an insight into the new, 36 year old Harry and his life and love and troubles. Which is, admittedly, what I expected and hoped for. 

To enjoy the play in its entirety, you need to approach it from a completely isolated perspective. Completely independent from the film and the book, there is no overlap of music, (although of course there are references and quotes from the books). And it is vital to remember it is a play, another dimension to the Harry Potter world, rather than the sequel we all hoped and dreamed for. The final three Harry Potter books are extremely dark, yet whilst the tones of the plot are dark in themselves, the play is light and funny, and I would argue, is more directed at a younger audience. There’s a lot of laugh out loud moments and some dry humour, but again, as it’s a stage performance, characters have been exaggerated and I found the character of Ron was purely there for comedic purposes with slapstick jokes which to me, undervalued the personality of the character.

I would, without a shadow of a doubt, go and watch it again. I actually think, now I know what to expect, it’ll be better the next time around because there will be no disappointments. The actors carry the weight of the show incredibly, and put on outstanding performances in both halves, particularly Scorpius Malfoy (Samuel Blenkin) who, as I was walking out with the crowds from the theatre, was widely renowned as a favourite. A huge feat for a new character in the most popular book series of all times. 

If you have tickets, go in open minded and a little detached from the original Harry Potter world you know from the books or films. It’s a fantastic piece of theatre, but approaching it with the view of it being completely independent will, I think, make you enjoy the performances even more. It was visually spectacular and bought the little bit of magic most of us need after so long without the magical world. The commotion made around the play is not unwarranted, undoubtedly, the show will continue to sell out for months if not years to come. It seems no matter what form JK Rowling turns her hand to, there are millions of people so attached to this world, we will always come back, anxiously awaiting Hogwarts to welcome us home. 

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