Friday, March 17, 2017

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

In early February, I headed to London for the weekend (like the typical European I now am) to go see the newest addition to the Harry Potter saga, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I bought my tickets over a year ago, not willing to take a chance in the tickets selling out or the play ending before I got to see it.
I have heard a lot of mixed reviews about it... Many people who had read the script alone had said it wasn't anything close to something Rowling would have written, and those who had seen the play were completely amazed. I decided to wait to see the play to read the script/book and I'm so glad I did.

The two parts of the play happen in the Palace Theatre, an enormous and beautiful theatre in the West End, the sort of "theatre district" of London. It's surrounded by small cafés and other theatres, but this one stands out with its red brick face and of course, the giant Cursed Child logo on the front. There are about 1,400 seats and is sold out every night!

The verdict? I'm torn.

The play itself, was amazing! The script was great, the actors were extremely talented, the sets were so clever and the entire mise-en-scène was spectacular. Being a story about magic, they managed to have spells with light, fire, things and people lifting up in the air, even a scene under water and not one of these special effects seemed cheap. You could hear the sighs and "wow!"s or the crowd with each new special effect and sometimes even just from the dialogue. Both nights when the curtain fell over the stage, we all left the theatre in total awe and excitement.

The story itself, on the other hand, I'm not so fond of. If you take the play for a single piece of theatre unrelated to the Harry Potter series, then it's fantastic. But if you consider it a part of the series, you'll be quite disappointed by the story. Without giving any spoilers away, I'll try to explain what I mean. The play is set 19 years later, and starts exactly where book 7 left off, on the platform 3/4, with Harry's kids leaving for Hogwarts. Of course, we have a whole new set of characters, but also a lot of familiar faces coming back as we find out what happened to them as well. I don't know about you, but people don't usually change drastically when they go from their teenage years to their adult years, at least not a whole 180 in personality.
There were so many characters that would say or do things and I kept thinking "No way, they would never ever do/say that!" A few events also made me shake my head, thinking it would be impossible for this to happen, making the story a little hard to believe, if -and only if- you take it straight from Harry Potter.

I compare it a little bit with The Hobbit movies, with all the extra storylines they added that were unnecessary. As a movie on its own, it's great, but if you follow the story, it's not so great. Cursed Child is much the same.

All in all though, it was a really wonderful play and would still recommend that every Harry Potter fan should see it.  Five years after the last movie and nine years after the last book, we get to dive into our favourite story all over again.

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