Harry Potter and the Cursed Child review: ‘drama, deceit and standing ovations all around.’

Jamie Parker and Sam Clemmett in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Jamie Parker and Sam Clemmett in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Credit: Archant

Latest installment of JK Rowling’s franchise wows audiences with outstanding performances and special effects

Warning: May contain spoilers (though I’ve tried as hard as I can to avoid them).

I’m not a fan; I’m an expert. I haven’t read the books; I have imbibed each word of every page repeatedly for 15 years. I’m that reader who makes JK Rowling quake in her boots at the thought of plot inconsistencies.

So, fidgeting in my seat, the back of Helena Bonham Carter’s head partially obscuring my view (which I can live with), I was nervous: a combination of excitement about a new fix for my addiction and fear that all the five star reviews were setting me up for disappointment.

Six hours later, Part One and Two were over and there wasn’t an ounce of dissatisfaction in me, or the rest of the audience – standing O’s all round.

Written by JK herself, with the helping hands of scriptwriter Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany, the latest installation in Harry’s tale takes us 19 years into the future, carrying on where Rowling left us at the end of the Deathly Hallows.

While there is drama, death (sorry, spoiler) and deceit, akin to the books’ riveting plotlines, the most engaging cog in the Cursed Child’s multi-faceted machine is the exploration of character relationships and how they deal with their past trauma.

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The idea that, as Rowling told in the closing sentence of the final book, “all was well” after the horror these kids had seen was ludicrous. The Cursed Child gave her a chance to deal with some of the demons she so carelessly left behind.

Hermione (Noma Dumezweni) and Ron (Paul Thornley) seem remarkably well-adjusted and their relationship is a lot more convincing than the Watson-Grint film fiasco.

Harry (Jamie Parker) on the other hand is struggling with the complexity of having an adolescent son (Sam Clemmett) who resents his father’s fame.

Aside from some characters, namely Ginny, who again, through no fault of the actor, comes across as flat, the overall level of performance is stellar.

As for aforementioned plot inconsistencies, I was too engrossed to pay much attention to picking it apart, but even the most avid couldn’t have overlooked the spattering of near-implausible friendships that somehow arose since the last book.

Special recognition must be paid to Anthony Boyle, who out-acts even the production’s most experienced cast members as Draco Malfoy’s son.

Imogen Heap’s score, Katrina Lindsay’s costumes, Steven Hoggett’s choreography and Christine Jones’s set design all come together to create an utterly immersive and, at times, shock-inducing experience.

As much as the Cursed Child is about magic – something the on-set illusionist Jamie Harrison achieves with astonishing authenticity – it is, as Rowling always intends, about the power of love, the impact of loss and the dangers of loneliness.

Rating: 4/5 stars

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