We’re so hell-bent on maintaining the idea of nature or nurture – an either-or that it has become ubiquitous in determining humanity’s actions. But what if it’s dominantly a combination of both.
The idea of being ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is strong in Harry Potter & the Cursed Child, as is the Freudian treatment of two of the play’s key characters. It is an intelligent, meticulously thought out story with some outstanding performances from some recognisable and lesser known actors. Unsurprisingly, the feeling of nostalgia for fans of the Potter universe is almost too overwhelming – particularly initially but there is much, much to enjoy for those less familiar with the lightning bolt scarred wizard.
Little can be given away about the content of the show. I fear the hashtag #KeepTheSecrets will loom over my being whilst I sleep, like an angry Dementor, and suck out my soul. I like my soul cheers. It’s probably common knowledge now that the story is set 19 years after the events of The Deathly Hallows – book seven, and leads off directly from the conclusion. Harry and Ginny’s middle child, Albus is all set to start Hogwarts, the more magical, less anarchic version of St Trinian’s (almost as desirable). He is joined by Hermione and Ron’s daughter, Rose before meeting and bonding with Draco Malfoy’s son, Scorpius.
That’s it, no more! Okay a teensy bit… The real game-changer of the Harry Potter series, The Goblet of Fire plays a huge part in The Cursed Child. Family and parenthood are crucial themes throughout but especially here as they engulf the world our characters know and love and threaten to transform everything.
Some of the early story feels rushed and, like much of Part One, in particular, takes concentration to appreciate what is going on. As it progresses however, this action feels necessary. The maturity and eagle-eyed precision of J.K. Rowling, Playwright Jack Thorne and Director John Tiffany could be too vast for a younger audience, however, the world that has been created and the effects on offer will undoubtedly be enough to inflict euphoria.
Tiffany’s pieces are always achingly beautiful and this show is just wondrous. Jamie Harrison’s effects are shocking. How the hell did he do that?! And Steven Hoggett’s injection of movement is unexpected and gorgeous. Christine Jones’s set changes are subtle and momentous. New props are slotted in discreetly but ultimately alter the very notion of what we had witnessed previously.
It’s often easy to forget that these seemingly very real people, with very real and relatable problems are, in fact, fictional. But that is just the joy of Rowling’s work. The performances are so convincing, the actors so convinced of this world that you can’t help but be sucked in immediately. Remember when you devoured each book in three minutes? The films have their fans and perhaps you’re one of them but being transported into pages, into your own imagination just cannot be beaten. Remember what that felt like? The Cursed Child is just like that. Prepare to be astonished, ecstatic, sad and very satisfied.
Harry Potter & the Cursed Child: Parts One & Two is booking at the Palace theatre until December 10 2017. For more information and tickets, see the Harry Potter the Play website.
Photo: Manuel Harden