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From page to stage: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Teaming up with playwright Jack Thorn and director John Tiffany, Rowling brings to us the eighth Harry Potter story that follows Harry’s teenage son, Albus, on his adventures at Hogwarts. Like many other members of the Harry Potter generation, I grew up anxiously awaiting the release of the next novel and film. The theatre version does not disappoint; making a seamless transition from reading on the page to experiencing on the stage.

For anyone who felt sentimental at the end of the final Deathly Hallows film (for which the industry’s best make-up artists made an attempt at turning Dan Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson into thirty-six year olds), the play continues on from this point. It narrates Albus’ struggle to bear the weight of the Potter name and live up to the expectations of being the son of The Boy Who Lived.

The play reunites us with the characters and small details of the wizarding world that we know and love, such as Platform 9 ¾, moving portraits, and the extraordinary Hogwarts Express

The play reunites us with the characters and small details of the wizarding world that we know and love, such as Platform 9 ¾, moving portraits, and the extraordinary Hogwarts Express. To me it seemed Rowling was sending a message of thanks to her loyal readers by interweaving references and details that could only be noticed by those who have read the series. However, newcomers to the Harry Potter world are by no means excluded. There are new characters to be met, darker forces to be reckoned with, and a much more sinister plotline to unsettle us, particularly in today’s political climate. If you missed the political undertones whilst reading the stories, you cannot in this production.

One of the most uncomfortable and yet rather beautiful aspects of The Cursed Child is how the relationship between father and son plays out. Heavily present in the book series, Harry’s sass and temper comes back to life on the stage. Even after battling Voldemort at the end of each school year (which conveniently let him skip out on revision for his exams every summer term) he faces his biggest challenge yet: being a father.

My immediate thought while watching it was that the Cursed Child can only be called a hybrid between film and theatre

I may be a little biased as a lover of the theatre already, but this show is very different to watching a three hour long Julius Ceasar at the RSC. My immediate thought while watching it was that the Cursed Child can only be called a hybrid between film and theatre.  You might be thinking what I thought, that film (with CGI and other fantastic technologies) can bring to life what theatre cannot. But The Cursed Child marks an exciting new era of technology in which the digital can be brought to the stage. The sound system was incredible, the visual elements were like nothing I have ever seen on stage.

It is the first play I have watched where ‘suspension of disbelief’ seems a thing of the past. Prepare to see levitation, magic spells, on-stage wizard duels and much more. As my friend and I were sat right at the back at the highest level (student budgets are tight), I assumed we’d be safely away from any interaction with the stage. Yet, at one moment when the theatre was chillingly dark, there were several gasps from the audience around us and suddenly a dementor flew up in front of us, followed by another. It was terrifying. It felt that we had not just gone to simply watch the Harry Potter world on stage, we were fully immersed in it.

Sometimes I laughed, sometimes I felt scared and sentimental: I am confident that young children all the way to grandparents would be gripped by The Cursed Child

The chilling aspects of the play were balanced by the humour and comic relief of Ron and, your new favourite character, Scorpius Malfoy. Sometimes I laughed, sometimes I felt scared and sentimental: I am confident that young children all the way to grandparents would be gripped by The Cursed Child. Plus, the Palace Theatre was a fantastic venue; the interior felt almost like walking through the Hogwarts corridors themselves. It was a truly magical day.

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