It’s Sunday the 14th August 2016, the date has been the biggest highlight of our year since the announcement of a new Harry Potter. Tickets so high in demand, on the day of release I joined the queue at 9646, despite sitting refreshing both my phone & Mac constantly 10 minutes before they were due to go on sale.
The Palace theatre is incredible, a fine example of architecture that just feels perfect for a grand performance of magical proportions. Me & my family seated a few rows from the front with an outstanding view. Whilst London outside is enjoying a chilled out Sunday, a break from it’s usual demanding hustle & bustle, the theatre is full of excited Potter fans of all generations. The curtain displaying a stylish ‘H’ already gives the impression that this is a more sophisticated style to the HP we are all familiar with. As the curtain raises, the excitement and tension is pushed to another level, with gasps from the other early arrivals, followed by more speedy whispering about favourite characters, wands, spells, books and films. People have travelled miles from all over the world to be part of this exclusive show.
Since I was a young adult I have obsessed over the world created by J. K. Rowling. Obsessed with both the books and films. J. K. Rowling totally reigniting my love of reading. As a child I always had my head in a book. I loved going into spare oom to visit Narnia, fight Orcs on my way through Middle Earth and travel around with a man of many faces in a blue police box. However reading for my own enjoyment stopped whilst having to read for school coursework and the demands of becoming an adult. But along came Harry Potter! and because of its huge success, reading became cool again. Books that all generations could enjoy reading to each other, a wonderful story that so cleverly and beautifully matured with its reader.
I had spent a few years living in London, (where I can say I even once cooked for J. K. Rowling) which made my journey just a little more magical. With such an incredible cast of diverse characters everybody is able to relate to at least one or two of them. Myself a cross between Luna Lovegood & Tom Riddle. Barely a day goes by in our house without a reference to Harry Potter; whether its my children growing up reading the books, watching the films, listening to Audiobooks, playing games and building Lego. Furthermore Harry Potter has had such an influence on my love of reading fantasy and now studying for a degree in creative writing.
So the curtain is raised and in front of us are suitcases, a large clock and a floating hat, we are at Kings Cross 19 years later. Despite attending the midnight opening for the book, I decided not to read it, I wanted to be genuinely in the dark. I knew it was to pick up at the scene left in the book and film, that awful moment for me ’19 years later’, that awful moment that meant closure for Harry potter, whilst Danny Rad & Rupert Grint had not aged particularly well. So was this Rowling’s plan all along? did she have a back up in case she could just not stay away from Hogwarts, writing under a pseudonym?
The script of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been met with an overwhelming response, the best sales in the first week since… The last Harry Potter book! However it seems many believed that the script would not be an actual script. So along with it’s success it has also been a target of much criticism, which is totally justified. But what is also justified is the choice Rowling has made. Harry Potter has sold millions of books. The films have been watched all over the world, and as a huge Harry potter fan there is nothing better than seeing the author put herself on the line and give fans something entirely different, something intimate and exclusive, a ‘slug club’ for the fans! I understand I am speaking from the perspective of somebody lucky enough to see the show, live close enough to it and be able to afford it (at the sacrifice of a holiday) But it at least presents an opportunity for ‘Sirius’ HP fans. So. Why release the script I hear you say? Because like it or loathe it, the demand was there, the best selling book in its first week for 10 years, says it all. I’m sure given the choice Rowling would have us all transported on the Hogwarts express to a theatre big enough for us all to see. I am sure this show will travel the world and I expect it will someday the play will be released in cinemas. If you plan to see it and have not read the script, Good! Do not! It will be worth the wait, I promise you.
Half-way through part 1 and I cannot believe how breathtaking the performance has been. I make my way out thinking its the end of part one. The effects are awesome, it is not just a play it is a magic show with incredible stage trickery. The changes of scene are so smooth and clean. The props and the make up are perfect, matching the style of the books artistry so much more than the films were able to, this is not a hollywood movie with lots of takes and green screens, this is live, honest, well rehearsed acting and all under the watchful eye of hundreds of HP fans with very high expectations. Very critical fans who will not be tricked with parts that do not fit!
Both parts 1&2 shown in one day. 5 hours of Harry Potter! and there is not one disappointed face, there is a standing ovation for the cast as they bow to the audience and I am thinking I could sit there and watch it again and again. My heart raced through the show, the perfect combination of tragedy, comedy and nostalgia. And believe me when I say I do want to #keepthesecrets but the dementors were bloody incredible! I could genuinely feel my soul being sucked out by their kiss!
However, The major flaw in the script is very simple. The story is good and I love it. It is packed with great ideas and it works. As with HP 1-7 there is little that people can really criticise. Rowling’s memory and attention to the details and the back story are spot on. But the script is not the best bit by any stretch of the imagination!
The real stars of Harry Potter and the cursed child were Anthony Boyle and Sam Clemmett aka Scorpius Malfoy and Albus Potter. I guess the main focus would have been on Albus, who as the child of the famous Harry potter has an awful lot to live up to and when chosen by the sorting hat to be put in Slytherin it seems he is doomed. I felt his emotion throughout the whole play, his nervousness, his pain and depression feeling like the world is on his shoulders. Clemmett is incredibly talented, he shone and despite not being alone in scenes it was like watching a beautiful monologue about a young boy growing up wanting an identity of his own which nobody seems willing to let him have. In contrast to Albus there is Scorpius, played by Boyle who is rumoured to be son of the dark lord, but who is a total geek and loves school and is used to being shunned and a loner. But Boyle has accepted this, and uses his wit and heart to shrug off any haters. When Albus offers to be the friend of Scorpius on the Hogwarts Express (despite Granger trying to pull him away) Scorpius jumps at the chance offering Albus his sweets. He becomes so devoted to Albus, but of course a Malfoy and a Potter is a friendship frowned upon by both sides and eventually forbidden. These two young actors are without a doubt the stars of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and will go on to do many more great characters. The previous night I had watched the complete series of Stranger things and been blown away by the young actors and how confident they were. Anthony Boyle and Sam Clemmett were no exception and completely deserve every standing ovation they receive. In the words of Albus Dumbledore “It is, as they say, their party”
If you love Harry Potter or even if you do not, you must see this show.. Simply Incredible!
This review was written by The Fantasy Book Collector @kvothe1984. As well as writing reviews I collect & deal in rare & signed Fantasy books. I will also be adding some collectible HP Lego to the store soon. http://thefantasybookcollector.com