StageScan Pick: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

The reviews of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre are finally out, with two-thirds of pro critics awarding five stars. Neil Norman (Express) described “a wholly authentic HP experience” and Sarah Crompton (What’s On Stage) typically admitted:I felt it was my critical duty to fight the hype” before acknowledging “a spectacle of epic sweep and magisterial grandeur… quite simply, magic.” Mark Shenton (The Stage) agreed it’s “charmed rather than cursed”. Michael Billington (Guardian) thought it “will make much more sense to hardened Potterheads” but Norman, who agreed, found it “so packed with incident that it barely matters”. Shenton declared it “a major work in its own right”.

Crompton praised Jack Thorne’s “sharp and masterfully structured” script and Shenton described “Dickensian sweep and momentum”. Billington observed “mythical strands”, Crompton praised its “subtle examination of… love… loneliness… loss… friendship” and Shenton found it “particularly poignant” on parenting. Billington appreciated “leavening humour” and Crompton praised “good jokes and swift insight”.

Shenton described, in the theatre “that most resembles Hogwarts”, a “stunningly-realised alternative universe” delivering “one coup de theatre after another” and joined general praise for Jamie Harrison’s “astounding illusions and magic”. Norman found it “refreshingly free of computer-generated trickery” reporting “moments when you simply cannot believe the evidence of your own eyes”. Crompton hailed John Tiffany’s “genius at using the tricks of the stage” to create both “literal magic” and “pure delight in the sense of what is possible” with “every single member of the creative and design team” contributing to creating “a place of teeming fantasy”. Billington praised “dazzling assurance”, reporting Tiffany and designer Christine Jones “have created magic out of the simplest ingredients” including “brilliant use of suitcases and portable stairways”. He highlighted “triumphant” Dementors, and Norman found them “Amazing and very, very scary”.

Crompton described “uniformly good and occasionally outstanding” performances and Shenton enjoyed  “fully rounded portraits”. He praised Jamie Parker’s “superb” Harry whom Norman found “looks exactly as you imagine”. Billington thought him “suitably distraught” and Crompton observed “just enough boyish charm”. Shenton thought young Albus Potter “beautifully played” by Sam Clemmett.

Billington enjoyed Anthony Boyle’s “wonderfully quirky” Scorpius Malfoy, Norman thought him “superb” and Crompton described “a career-making performance”. He also enjoyed Paul Thornley’s “bluntly commonsensical” Ron and Crompton felt Noma Dumezweni’s “ardent, clever Hermione… illuminates each moment she is on stage”. Shenton found the couple “finely etched” and praised “warmth, vulnerability and winning humour”.

Shenton hailed “a truly game-changing production” with “real integrity… playful and gripping, disturbing and detailed, poignant and powerful… superb” suggesting it could prove “one of the most influential and important theatre works of the century”. Crompton praised “a deeply theatrical experience, a love letter to theatre itself” concluding: ” I loved it… It is a triumph.”

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