Having only been to the theatre a handful of times in my life, I am in no way a theatre critic. This is a review written purely from the view of a fan.
Because I went into the theatre to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child knowing very little of what to expect of the plot, I’d like to extend that same courtesy to anyone reading this. I’m not going to talk about the plot, or give away any of the twists and turns of the play, but I will be talking about my thoughts on things like stage effects, characters (new and old), and the general feel of the play.
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
Whether it’s because I’ve always loved Harry Potter and I’m obsessed with the idea of magic, or because this play was just done so incredibly well, there was something really special about this performance. I absolutely loved the plot, which was completely unexpected, incredibly rewarding, and gripping throughout. The play went from beautifully nostalgic and reminiscent of the very first Harry Potter book, to dark, intense and surprisingly frightening. While at times, the play was similar to the previous Harry Potter stories, at others, it felt so different, at times darker, and more mature, addressing broader themes.
Because the play takes place around twenty years after the events of the books, we get to see the characters in a completely different light, grown-up and with children of their own. For me, it was strange seeing the characters this way, and I know that there will always be mixed views regarding where each character stands now. Readers might have imagined different futures for their beloved characters (and might have even written them in fanfiction), so at least some people are sure to be disappointed. Personally, I wasn’t. While I’ve never quite agreed with the slightly too convenient pairing off of the witches and wizards at the end of the Harry Potter series, the play does well at exploring the future of the characters’ relationships, and how these have changed with age.
Thematically, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child sticks to some of the themes we know well from the previous stories, such as magic, friendship, and family. This time, we see these themes from a slightly different perspective, the next generation of Hogwarts students having been brought up by some of the now-famous witches and wizards who fought at the Battle of Hogwarts. A major theme that runs through the play is legacy, and how the actions of these characteres have shaped the future of their children, which is interesting to see, and something we rarely get a glimpse of in other series.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child introduces plenty of new characters alongside the familiar faces. Some of these I would love to see more of, in particular, Scorpius Malfoy, Draco’s son, who I found so unexpected, interesting, and entertaining. For me, Scorpius is a character who could carry a story on his own, and the relationship between him and his father is one that gives new nuances to Draco’s character. There are also surprise appearances from a number of beloved characters who I won’t name, but who I expect would bring a smile to many a fan’s face.
What really made the play so exceptional were the stage effects and the performance. The play was filled with sparks, spells, and tricks that I still don’t understand. The stage effects were easily the most exciting I’ve seen, and made the show feel genuinely magical, leaving me wondering how they did it all. Even the scene transitions felt enchanting, with whipping cloaks, smart lighting effects, and short, cleverly choreographed routines to match.
Overall, I enjoyed Harry Potter and the Cursed Child even more than I expected to. It showed me the series from a completely different angle, answering some of the questions I often had about the series, and exploring new aspects of the characters’ lives. There wasn’t a dull moment, and the story was original, emotional, and filled with surprises.
“Those we love never truly leave us, Harry. There are things that death cannot touch.”