Earlier tonight, Hypable saw the second installment of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and I wanted to convey some vague thoughts now that the complete story has been told. There won’t be any intricate plot details in this post or spoilers of any kind.
I’ll just get this out of the way first: the choreography, set design and acting are all stunning. This play is pushing the boundaries of what is technically possible, and the Cursed Child production team are doing things that have never been done before.
In true Harry Potter style, the incredibly enthusiastic audience were left in awe at many of the concepts on display, from duelling to the Floo network. What is particularly impressive is the seamless transition in scenes. One example is where a character is under water (yes, actually under water), then has to be dry and ready for the very next scene that immediately follows. I can not begin to fathom the amount of work involved in choreographing this play and I salute those who have produced what I saw tonight.
The show is in its preview state for now, which will last for several weeks. It remains to be seen what, if anything, will change over that time. Typically theatre productions might make several alterations to their script based on a number of factors, such as audience reaction. However, with the publication of the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child script occurring July 31, this may make the task more difficult given the time that printing takes (along with editing, photography, etc). Personally, I think that this is a story which is in need of changes. I also don’t think the publication will convey the special effects and visual stimuli that the theatre production has very aptly and will make for a rather poor substitute.
As we ploughed into hour number five of this play, it became apparent that this wasn’t a conventional Harry Potter story as we knew it, or even anything that resembles one. There is no complete year in Hogwarts (as per each book), which is quite striking given that this was marketed as the eighth story in the series. Instead, what happens is a self-contained event that wraps up reasonably neatly (not too far from where the story began in the first place). The major differences lie in the dialogue; the script is both funny and clever, filled with laughs but also adrenalin and even sadness at times. However, the dialogue will not be familiar to Harry Potter readers. Both the style of the writing and the delivery is alien to what Harry Potter stories have been up until now, and the lines that familiar voices deliver are often starkly out-of-character.
New characters are introduced, but are in need of greater characterization and development. It’s hard to understand someone’s motivations when they are a complete unknown.
When I left the theatre, the feeling that first came to mind was that I hadn’t just seen a Harry Potter play, but a typical Broadway-style musical production (minus the music) with Harry Potter characters featured. There are scenes which are almost pantomime in nature. By the end of part one, I wasn’t sure how this feeling was sitting with me, and by the end of part two, I’ve made my peace with it. I’m actually okay with this not being a ‘pure’ Harry Potter story and instead is simply an engrossing play with superb choreography.
This line of thought was the only way I can accept the story as is, because treating this as Harry Potter canon is not something I’m willing to endorse. There are plot-related oddities which without revealing too much are frankly ridiculous and impossible given what happened in previous books, such as Voldemort’s lineage or Ron’s demotion to basic comic-relief. If you are looking for a new story regarding our favorite trio, you will be disappointed.
Yet, my point remains; this play is a fantastic technical achievement and enjoyable as a self-contained story. Try not to dwell too much on the Harry Potter literature or you may end up frustrated with the direction taken.