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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Stage Play – Review

July 31, 2016

“Wow”… That’s the only word we could think of when we walked off the Palace Theatre in London last month. We were lucky enough to attend Part One and Part Two of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on June 16th and 17th, and that’s something we will remember for a long time. Since it is the eighth story of the Harry Potter saga, we decided we would share with you 8 reasons we loved it.

Rose Weasley-Granger

1. THE WAITING

Okay, it might seem a bit odd for people outside the Potterverse, but we all know the waiting is part of the excitement. We used to wait months between each new Harry Potter book or movie. In the case of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, we sure did our part of waiting. We spent hours in the virtual queue to get our tickets like many fans around the world. As soon as we received the confirmation email, we felt the exact same excitement we did when we got our hands on the last Harry Potter book. That’s when the excitement started growing. You start counting the months, the weeks, then the days and finally the hours before you can step in the Palace Theatre. And honestly, it wouldn’t have been as exciting attending the play if we didn’t have to wait for it, if we didn’t feel like we earned it.

2. THE WAITING – AGAIN

Alright, this time we’re not talking about those months of planning your trip to London, booking your hostel and counting the days. We’re talking about that time you spend in the queues.

First one was at 10am when we went to collect our tickets. For some reason we arrived at the box office earlier than expected, at around 9.30am. Having not much to do in the neighborhood, we figured out we could wait at the box office doors already. Just a few minutes later, people started joining in the small line we started without realizing it.

We spent the next few hours wandering in the area and visiting the House of Minalima just a few steps away from the Palace Theatre. Around 5pm or so, we found ourselves with pretty much nothing to do. It’s not that we weren’t interested in doing anything around the theatre, we just couldn’t really focus on anything else than the upcoming play. We walked back to the place where it would all happen, wondering if people had started queuing up already.

Apart from a big crowd of people taking pictures of the Palace Theatre and its beautiful entrance, the only people we found queuing up were a lovely couple we would spend the whole waiting time with. It was good being back in a queue for a Harry Potter event.

In the queue we started noticing two things: first, people came from really far away to see the play. We heard people were coming from the United States or South America. Also, the people who were to attend the play were not exactly the same as those who would attend book launches or movie premieres. The medium age seemed to be a bit higher than that of previous Harry Potter events. We must admit it was a bit of a surprise, as we expected the Palace Theatre to be full of 15- to 25-year-old Harry Potter fans.

At 6.30pm, as they promised, they opened the doors to the Palace Theatre and after a quick checking of our bags we could finally enter this magical place. After a quick stop at the Cursed Child store booth, where we bought a bit of everything we could find, we joined the right floor where we had to wait a bit until we could join our seats. We had just the right time to admire the view from the Palace Theatre and from behind the child in the nest. Then, we started counting the minutes before the play would start. After joining our seat, the excitement was reaching a peak and we can’t really remember what was going through our head at that time. It really was a mix of all feelings.

3. THE ACTORS

Okay, we have to remind you guys that we are only expressing our own point of view. We are sure you will find hundreds of reviews and articles online that might express a totally different point of view on the play. We just hope either it is a positive or a negative one, you will all keep an open mind about this piece of fiction.

We have to admit one of the things we loved the most about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the actors. What a wonderful bunch of people. Their acting was flawless, they really do bring you on a journey during the few hours you spend with them. They make you smile, they make you laugh, they make you shiver and even at times they make you cry. We were stunned by all of them.

At the end of Part I, we decided to go check the Stage Door behind the Palace Theatre and see if by any chance we could get a picture with some of the actors. What a great idea that was. Luckily, just a few of us had that same idea so when Sam Clemmett, Anthony Boyle or Cherrelle Skeete came out they were kind enough to spend a bit of time and take many pictures with a dozen of us. They are amongst the most wonderful and kindest people we ever got to meet. We tried doing the same thing for Part II they day after, and instead of a dozen of people there were like a hundred of fans, and this time security guards and fences. Gosh, we don’t regret taking our chance the first day.

Albus Severus Potter
Albus Severus Potter

4. THE STORY

All the good reviews about the actors making this play an amazing one raise interesting questions. Some fans are wondering: If the actors are one of main interests of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, what’s the point of allowing many fans around the world to discover the play through it’s script? Won’t it ruin it for the fans?

It is true that the huge majority of people around the world will get to discover Harry Potter and the Cursed Child through the book. We will go straight to the point: I personally think it was great. The whole story relies on time-traveling, which makes it really interesting as it makes us discover several alternative realities of the Harry Potter universe, and relive some of the scenes from the previous stories, this time with a different point of view.

What I loved about it, is you get a few answers to questions like What if Voldemort had won? It is great food for thought, and brings theories that fans can spend hours debating on. On the other hand, it makes lots of people wonder about which parts are canon and which are not. That’s a question that could have its own article.

The only flaw in the story was, I thought, the story of Delphi. I am okay with the fact this character exists, I  just hoped she would have had a more interesting place and wasn’t such an obvious way to add depth to the plot. As what I saw was a Preview and most reviews online agree to disagree with Delphi, we will wait and see if they changed anything about her and her presence during the play.

That said, I still love the use of time-turning and that the whole play relies on that. It was great being able to attend some important moments from the saga for the first time, though we heard about them for years and years.

5. THE PALACE THEATRE

J.K. Rowling said Harry Potter and the Cursed Child just had to be a play. After seeing it, we have to agree with her.

The Palace Theatre has undergone a few modifications to make it the most suitable place for this play. You don’t just get to sit and watch the play unfold behind your eyes. There are some “wow factors” during the play, some parts of it literally bring you inside the play. You don’t only get to see a play about magic, you get to experience magic all around you. Kudos to the special effects team for that, they did a great job. That said, it worked for us because we were experiencing it and we knew nothing about it. We don’t really know how we feel about all these wonderful tricks being summed up to being a few lines in a script book. There is a difference between having dementors coming out of nowhere and flying a few inches from you and all around the theatre, and reading the same thing in a book. We are looking forward to hearing what people who discovered Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as a script book will think.

6. THE DECORS AND PROPS

Some critics read it was a bit sad that parts of the play looked a bit too much like the Harry Potter movies.

You have no idea how strongly we disagree with that point. On the opposite, we were relieved some parts of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child were doing justice to the books where we felt the movies betrayed them (props to you, Poppy Miller). We were glad the props and costumes department didn’t just copy the stuff you can find in the movies.

The colours of the four houses of Hogwarts are slightly different than the ones from the movies (and look way better according to us). They created new logos for Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff (though we are a bit disappointed with the look of that last one). It is a great thing they created brand new looks, and all the footage from backstage show how much time was spent working on that.

Also, we were amazed by how the rather small space that is on stage, along with two moving stairs, were used to become either Platform 9 3/4, Hogwarts’ Great Hall, the Ministry of Magic, the Lake of Hogwarts, Harry’s room, a street, the Hogwarts Express, etc.

There are so many tricks being used with so little props during the play our eyes couldn’t rest until they closed the curtains. And the most amazing thing is it all works perfectly. You have to picture the whole Hogwarts Express being made of luggage, the Maze from the Triwizard Tournament built from a few bookshelves that are constantly moved by people onstage, or even a special curtain turning the stage into the Lake of Hogwarts with all the actors flying/swimming in it. We also love all the muggle ways they found to picture time-traveling, going to Platform 9 3/4 or even using Polyjuice potion! We’re just hoping there will be a way to watch them all over again someday…

7. THE MUSIC

The Cursed Child store booth is full of many souvenirs and merchandise you can bring back home. One thing is missing according to us though: we really hoped they would have sold a CD of the play’s soundtrack. The music was great, with tiny bits echoing that of the movies and reminding us of all the moving moments.

We felt like music was one of the biggest factors that made us love the play and spend two amazing nights at the Palace Theatre. Though again, this reflects our own thoughts on the play, and some might argue it will be one of the reason why the script book won’t top that experience.

8. THE ALCHEMY

If we want to sum up the reasons why we loved Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, it is that to us most of the things you can look for when attending a play didn’t fail to amaze us. The alchemy between the actors, between the musc and all the movements on stage, between all the emotions you are feeling, between all parts of the story, and between what’s happening on stage and in the theatre made the experience amazing. To me, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was as successful as the Harry Potter books, and in some points even more.

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