Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, the 8th instalment of the JK Rowling wizarding saga has had its opening gala performance in London today (30th July 2016) following a lengthy run of previews. Unlike the previous instalments, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is, first and foremost, a stage play although the script is to be released in book form at Midnight tonight.
The need for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child to be released as a book was recognised pretty early on, given the vast Harry Potter fandom, tickets to the play have sold out well into 2017. The problem is compounded by the fact that the play is split into two parts to be seen on consecutive nights or as a matinee and evening performance, effectively halving the number of tickets available in any given week.
Despite the difficulty to get tickets and the book not even released yet, the hype around Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been mammoth on a global scale. The gala performance today was attended by a number of special guests including JK Rowling and Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London.
JK Rowling has implored fans to “Keep The Secrets” so as not to spoil the play for those still to see or read it, and reviewers across the globe have generally abided by her word. Here’s a roundup of the best reviews.
The Guardian (4 stars)
“It is no secret that the story starts where the seventh book leaves off. Harry (now 37) and Ginny, accompanied by Ron and Hermione, watch as their offspring set off from King’s Cross for a new term at Hogwarts. This is the cue for the first in a remarkable series of wonders by in-house illusionist Jamie Harrison, where the conventionally clad kids magically acquire school uniforms.”
The Independent (5 stars)
“Past characters, of whom there are many, make appearances frequently, eliciting applause from the eager audience, while the next generation of Potters and Granger-Weasleys are a breath of fresh air to the series. As Scorpio Malfoy, the play’s standout character, says toward the end of the production, “I’m quivering with geekiness,” something almost everyone in the auditorium is undoubtedly doing.”
“Rowling has found a neat way to revisit her original, allowing for both novelty and nostalgia. Without giving those secrets away, her plot has shades of fan-fiction to it, revealing the past anew and prodding at its possibilities. It’s built for aficionados, of course, and while flashbacks and (clunky) exposition fill in the key plot points, you do need a knowledge of the world itself, from floo networks to Dementors’ Kisses.”
The Stage (5 stars)
“It earns its place on the stage, feeling distinct from both the books and the screen adaptations. By turns playful and gripping, disturbing and detailed, poignant and powerful, it is superb family entertainment.”
“While many Potter fans might have preferred a new movie or a book, this is a story that feels made for the stage. Yes, it’s packed with effects as characters cast spells, fly and even transform, achieved through old school stagecraft rather than digital trickery.”