Sunday, 17 July 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play written by JK Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, telling an eighth story in the Harry Potter series. I recently saw it in London and thought I would write a short and spoiler-free review. There's a very strong #KeepTheSecrets campaign going, which is about a third of the reason this review is spoiler-free. The other two reasons are that most of my reviews are spoiler-free, and that I genuinely think it's a story best approached cold. The cover and blurb I've used in this post come from the upcoming script book to be released at the end of July.

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.

How long has it been since we had a new Harry Potter story to enjoy? If you, like me, read the later books on the day they came out and avoided your friends and the internet until you were done inhaling them so that you could avoid spoilers and experience them quickly and not be left behind... And then be sad that there wasn't more and that you had to wait who knows how long until the next one... This play brought back those feelings of excitement. It's not the same as the books and the story follows a different arc to the year-by-year unfolding of the books, but it's still a Harry Potter story.

More than that, it's a story that's in conversation with the earlier cannon and with some of the criticisms that have been levelled against it. It makes me wonder where else there is to go from here, as far as stories about the British present-day (-ish) Wizarding World is concerned. On the other hand, this is not a play that's going to be all things to all people. I wasn't sure what to expect going in — I think I was bracing for the disappointing meh-ness of the movies — and I was more than pleased with what I got.

Did I mention the special effects were excellent? I can't imagine that many superfans will be able to resist reading the script book, but if they do, it will be a loooong journey of avoiding spoilers until getting to the play. If you don't already have tickets... well, I checked and all available tickets are sold out until May 2017, although forty tickets are being released every Friday... to the entire internet. For a play that's only on in London. So I can see how the script book will end up being a main way people first experience the story. I hope they did a good job with it, but I doubt it will compare with the awesome special effects in the play. Alas.

5 / 5 stars

First published: July 2017 (I got tickets to a preview show)
Series: Harry Potter, eighth story, following the seven books
Format read: Saw the play at the Palace in London
Source: Waking up early and waiting in an internet queue for two hours last year

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