Benji Boyd, Sophomore
For ten years, the Harry Potter franchise had the world in a chokehold. Fans eagerly awaited each new installment until 2007, when Harry’s epic lifelong battle with Voldemort came to an end. Or so we thought.
Nearly eleven years after that – enough time for a baby to be born, raised in a closet, and invited to a wizarding academy – the next generation of wizards and witches took the stage in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Taking place nineteen years after the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Cursed Child follows the adventures of the children of Harry and Ginny, Hermione and Ron, and Draco Malfoy.
It incorporates lasting themes from the original series explored through new original characters. In this way, it is the perfect play for the new generation of Harry Potter fans who were too late to follow along the journey through the release of the books or movies.
The play bears the signature title of “Harry Potter and . . .”, signifying it as an official continuation of the original series. However, as the play unfolds, the viewers can soon see that the “Cursed Child” could be a number of characters. Any Potterhead will know that Harry was most definitely cursed. Had he not been, there would be no story.
But the curses in this story are all fallout from the Battle of Hogwarts and the people affected by Harry’s story.
The play follows the unlikely friendship between Albus Severus Potter, the son of Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley, and Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Draco Malfoy. In their own way, both of these children are cursed by their parents’ legacy and name, and bond over being ostracized for their parentage. This story runs parallel to that of their parents, who have all grown up and moved past the adventures of their youth to take jobs in the Ministry of Magic and other magical occupations.
While the story alone might be enough to make this an enjoyable show, invoking nostalgia for the old fans and excitement for the new, what really made this show excellent was the magic. On the stage, there’s no CGI to turn sticks of wood into wands and green blocks into dragons. So the directors of this show turned to old-fashioned tricks, perfect timing, and incomprehensible feats of illusion to recreate the wizarding world right in front of the audience’s eyes.
Actors who vanish from the center of the stage. Floating props that snap to their positions at the click of a finger. Eerie dementors flying over the audience’s head. These are all things to expect and marvel over in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. By the time you’ve conjured up a theory about how they executed the last trick, there’s a new one to puzzle over. It really makes you feel like a muggle.
Paired with the incredible visual and auditory effects, the experience is fully engaging. The show is fast-paced, and scenes are transitioned with large ensemble movements involving interpretive dance and lots of cape-swishing. The sets are ever changing, and no two settings feel like they are in the same theater. The music is intense, even deafening at times, and makes it feel like you’re not only watching a movie, but inside one.
Leaving this show feels like running through the barrier at Platform 9 3⁄4 and returning to the muggle world. After four years on Broadway, the seats are still packed, and for good reason. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child does not only do Harry Potter and the old storylines justice, but it has also taught the world who learned to love magic on paper twenty-one years ago to love it again on stage.