Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play that’s been clouded in secrecy since it began production. At the showing I attended, each audience member was even given a pin with #KeepTheSecrets printed in big, bold letters on it. Without giving too much away, then, Cursed Child takes place 19 years after the events of the last book and, though it is a Harry Potter story, mainly follows Albus Severus Potter as he struggles to find himself under the weight of the Potter legacy.
If you thought, as I did, that the play wouldn’t be as visually spectacular as the CGI-aided films you’d be wrong. The brilliantly-executed special effects were, for lack of a better word, spellbinding; spells exploded and crackled in the air, chairs and tables flew around the stage at alarming speeds and the actors apparated and disapparated as if by magic. The set design was equally interesting, faithfully echoing the ancient grandeur of the Great Hall, the tall arches of King’s Cross Station and the organicness of the Forbidden Forest, often all at once.
It’s a testament to their abilities and portrayals of the characters that, despite the strong visual connection that fans have between Radcliffe, Watson and Grint to the trio, the older actors immediately felt natural in their roles. Jamie Parker as Harry and Noma Dumezweni as Hermione in particular do excellent jobs in their portrayals, the latter proving skeptics wrong after her slightly controversial race-bent casting. Stealing the show, however, was Anthony Boyle, whose portrayal of Scorpius Malfoy was layered, deeply absorbing and endearingly awkward.
Overall, Cursed Child is a satisfying, emotional romp back into J.K Rowling’s universe, though it sometimes feels like it dips too much into nostalgia at the expense of story. John Tiffany and Jack Thorne have managed to recapture the magic of the original series whilst still injecting the story with new blood.
(Image courtesy of Manuel Harlan)