Harry Potter And The Over-Rated Play – A Review Of ‘The Cursed Child’
“If you have to ask, you’ll never know. If you know, you need only ask.”
Those were the words my best friend said to me when she announced she had a surprise for me on her wedding day. When she said them, I had no idea what she was on about. So maybe I should have never known, but after much pressing, she filled in the blanks.
We were going to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in London… the next year! Wahoooo!
She had managed to get tickets for the show that people had queued online for hours for. So we had over a year of being excited to prepare for.
Well, the day finally came around and I was buzzing all week leading up to it. I read the play way back when the book came out and, despite unpopular opinion, I enjoyed the play. I read it quickly and enjoyed the glimpse into the character’s futures.
We saw both Part One and Part Two on the same day; the Saturday. So we didn’t have a full day to forget what had happened in Part One. Although, I must say that it was pretty exhausting watching both shows on the same day. After all, when your friend has paid so much for tickets, you don’t particularly want to take a catnap and miss half of it…
So, what did I think of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child?
Well, let’s just say that it is half every Harry Potter fans’ best dream, and half their worst nightmare. It is a dream in that the show is a continuation of the story to feed our everlasting need for Harry Potter novelties. And it is a nightmare in that sometimes things are best left up to the imagination.
I mean, isn’t that why nobody likes sequels? Because they never live up to the original story.
I preferred Part Two a lot more than Part One. Part One set the scene for Part Two, so it was a lot of conversation and not much action. It spent a lot of time zooming through Harry’s middle child, Albus’, high school experience at Hogwarts.
Spoiler alert: He’s not having a good time.
Another spoiler alert: Albus has major middle child syndrome and daddy’s issues.
It also built up the friendship between Albus and his best friend, Scorpius Malfoy (played excellently by Jonathan Case). While Part One is essential for building up the relationships of all the characters, Part Two is when the story really gets going so hang in there.
What would a play about Harry Potter be without a bit of magic?
Someone on Twitter told me that I would ‘have never seen anything like it in theatre ever’ and ‘nothing would be able to measure up in comparison’.
Hmmm… each to their own, but I personally wouldn’t put this show even into my Top 10 of shows I’ve ever seen. The story is kind of rushed, there aren’t really any standout characters (albeit Snape’s brief appearance was HIL-arious) and it was easy to guess how the ‘magic’ was executed.
But I’m not expecting there to obviously be real magic in a play. Although there was one moment in a Harry and Hermione scene in act one of Part One that happened so quickly, I barely had time to process it. When you see the moment, you’ll know what I mean.
The rest of the magical moments, however, appeared to be nothing more than the work of trap doors and invisible ropes. Which is great; they worked well and I enjoyed those moments, but they weren’t earth shattering like people have made out.
So how’s Harry doing in the future?
If I’m honest, Harry Potter didn’t feel like he was doing too good in The Cursed Child play. He seemed very erratic the whole way through and seemed to be suffering major PTSD.
You’d have thought that defeating Lord Voldemort and winning the Battle of Hogwarts would chill him out a bit, but nope. Harry, played by Jamie Ballard, seemed on edge the whole play. I guess when your kid is playing up and gets sorted into Slytherin, you’re going to be a bit anxious.
I couldn’t help but feel like Ballard’s portrayal of Harry was a little bit ‘Harry one note’ throughout the two parts. As a result, in the climax of Part Two, a scene that should have been extremely emotional didn’t have the impact it should have.
Maybe if Harry’s character had a bit more emotional progression throughout the show then the scene would have been tearjerking. Instead, Harry’s emotional journey had nowhere to go by the endpoint as he’d been at ‘stress level 100’ pretty much since the start of Part One.
That being said, Thomas Aldridge was PERFECT as Ron, and I loved the chemistry between himself and Hermione, played by Franc Ashman. Jonathan Case as Scorpius was the stand out performance of the play; who’d have thunk you could love a Malfoy?!
The ensemble were all excellent, dipping in and out of classic characters – with Moaning Myrtle definitely being an audience favourite.
The Cursed Child… or the Over-Rated Play?
There were impressive moments that gave you chills, such as when the theatre lights up (you’ll find out why when you see it.) And it had plenty of Potter mayhem involving bookcases and a wand fight at the climax of the show. Not to mention, the nightmare of my childhood, The Dementors, have several terrifying features. But these wizarding-world classic elements are where the enjoyment comes from rather than the actual storyline, which I feel is pretty weak.
The novelty of Harry Potter increases every year, with more and more merchandise, theme park attractions, new spin-off movies and now the play. But I can’t help but wonder if this highly sought after, expensive, mediocre play is just another novelty.