There are now only 5 DAYS until the Cursed Child opening night, and 6 DAYS until the script book is released! I saw the play myself on Saturday the 23rd of July and...it was an experience, to say the least.
Today I just want to talk about my general thoughts on the play without giving any spoilers. All the secrets will be kept! I have a lot to say, and my opinions are all over the place, but I'll try to keep this as eloquent and brief as possible.
A few disclaimers before we start:
1- I saw a preview performance of the play. This means that what I saw may not be exactly the same as the play on opening night, but I can only comment on what I experienced.
2- I will not mention any specific plot points, twists or other 'secrets' in this post, but it's impossible for me to discuss the play without saying something. If you don't want to know any tiny bits of information please leave now.
3- This review comes from a very passionate but relatively new (I've only been in the fandom for about a year) Harry Potter fan. This will probably effect my opinion on the play and I admit to being biased. I'm a fan, not a theatre critic.
4- This story is undoubtedly going to be very polarising and everyone's going to have their own opinion. This is mine. Please respect it!
So...how do I start this? I'll just say that although my opinions on the story and the characters are very mixed, I did really enjoy the play as a whole and I had a wonderful experience seeing it. However negative I might sound, I don't hate the show at all. In fact, as long as I take it for what it is instead of considering it a serious piece of Harry Potter canon, I kind of love it.
The staging is incredible. Seriously, the set design and costuming and so on are brilliantly clever and stunning to look at. I just wish more people would get to experience that instead of only getting the script book. The magical effects are amazing, and I still don't know how half of them happened. Somebody behind me actually shouted out "HOW THE HELL DID THEY DO THAT?" at one point, which was hilarious. Unfortunately, I did feel like the impressive presentation was used to cover up and distract from the faults in the plot (of which there were many). Even so, as a visual and theatrical experience this was absolutely stunning.
My favourite part of the show, without a doubt, is Scorpius Malfoy. I don't want to say too much in fear that J.K. Rowling will appear and murder me for posting spoilers, but I LOVE this kid. He's actually become one of my favourite characters in the Harry Potter universe, and I really hope he comes across as well in the script as he did on stage. Anthony Boyle deserves ALL OF THE APPLAUSE. The other new characters were less impressive, although I did come to really care for Albus Severus by the end. There's one new character who is a total disaster but...well, I'll talk about that in my spoiler review.
I loved seeing the trio again, although Harry's characterisation wasn't what I expected (WHY IS IT SO HARD NOT TO SPOIL THINGS?) and I really wish Ron had been given more depth instead of only being used as comic relief. Noma Dumezweni as Hermione was definitely one of the high points for me (although she happened to be the only actor I noticed stumbling over their lines a few times), and I can honestly say that my love for Hermione Granger has grown even stronger than it was before. I didn't think that was possible. Anybody who is still judging her by the colour of her skin just needs to leave. Ginny also stood out to me, although that might just be because I'm comparing her to movie Ginny and anything is better than that. She doesn't necessarily do much, but I loved her in the scenes she was in.
Some of the other returning characters, who I obviously won't name for spoilery reasons, were fabulous and exactly how I wanted them to be, whilst some others seemed really random and out of place. A lot of people I expected/wanted to see didn't show up, including one character who was literally mentioned every five minutes but was never seen. It was frustrating to see so many cameos from characters I didn't really care about whilst my favourites were forgotten, but at least their acting was good!
Another great thing, before I talk about the mess that was the actual plot, were the relationships between the characters. The play was at it's strongest when it focused on the bonds between friends and family, and these themes produced some really touching scenes that had me sobbing into my program. The main friendship was so adorable and natural and I am extremely emotional about it. Again, no spoilers, but I have a brand new ship and I need everybody to write the fanfiction so I can cry over it.
One slightly random thing that I loved was the announcements that played before each act. You know, the bit where they tell you to turn your phone off and be quiet. They were all delivered by different characters which was just so cool and made me really feel engrossed in the story. This was added to by the theatre itself, which was set out so well and was obviously made to feel like it was part of the story, if that makes any sense at all. Basically, I just loved the little details that really made the experience so unique.
A few more things I loved, but that don't fit into any other paragraph: the choreography is incredible and everything moves so smoothly, there were a few scenes that made me ugly cry in a good way, the script was unexpectedly hilarious, there were a few moments where I truly felt the magic and nostalgia I relate to Harry Potter, the merchandise is really cute. There's more, because as much as I was disappointed in the plot there is a lot to love in this play.
Okay, that's the good stuff over with. Now I have to talk about the actual storyline. If you've read spoilers online and are hoping it's all a hoax, I'm sorry to tell you it's not. It's just as ridiculous as it sounds in summaries. Even my Mum, who wasn't aware before this weekend that there are different houses at Hogwarts, agreed that the plot was all over the place. This is so hard to talk about without spoiling things, but there are things that happen that make absolutely no sense and sort of go against the canon established in the seven books. As someone who has a lot of respect for the world and story that J.K. Rowling spent so much time developing, this was extremely frustrating. The motivations the characters had for doing what they did just weren't strong enough for the story to be justified. Some of the things that happened were so convenient and random that it honestly seemed like an insult to the intricate and well planned stories of the original series. Plot lines came out of nowhere and were dropped even faster and...I'll finish this rant in my spoiler review.
Although the plot twists were ridiculous, I have to admit there were a few that genuinely shocked me. There was a point when I was just whispering a string of swear words under my breath, and I had my hands over my mouth for the last five minutes of Part One. I'm not sure if that's really a good thing or not, but I'll give the show credit for surprising me!
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a ridiculously frustrating mess, but it's a ridiculously frustrating mess with incredible production value and some genuinely brilliant moments. Hermione Granger is everything I've ever wanted in a role model, and Scorpius Malfoy alone is worth the price of the ticket.