A Special 100th Post: On seeing Cursed Child

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Luggage is placed about a dark stage, the only light coming from the illuminated old-fashioned clock face in the background. Dust motes linger in the air, gently floating in the bands of light. A lone man walks onto the stage. And just like that, it begins.

The music starts the heartbeat of this momentous play, starting the excitement. More and more people come on stage, moving the luggage in choreographed movements that let us know that we weren’t exactly in the normal world anymore.

We were back again.

The action built, the nameless witches and wizards moving the luggage to simulate a train station, their cloaks fluttering through the sparkling dust filled air. Beautifully choreographed, they all moved together in a magical way.

The introduction to Cursed Child brought me back to all of those Harry Potter moments: waiting for the books and reading them in one go on the couch in my porch; trying to guess what would come next in the series; standing in line for the midnight movie premieres. My heart couldn’t contain all of the happy feelings that just that small amount of time gave me. I couldn’t believe I was there. I couldn’t believe this was happening. Naturally I cried–and I’m talking full on lip-quivering, trying to hold back tears crying–within the first 15 seconds out of sheer joy and happiness.

I managed to get myself together as we were introduced to old and new characters.

There’s something just so magically different to seeing Harry Potter play out in front of you. Yes, we have the movies. But seeing this–seeing the actors traipse across the set and interact with one another–there was something so beautifully tangible about that. To feel as if you could reach out and touch the actors; to have an actor go into water and emerge dripping wet and to hear the splash of that water; to feel the heat of fire on your face…that is something that can’t be replicated or felt when you’re watching it on the screen.

When it was over, I immediately wanted to see it again. Blinking into the late afternoon light after part one, I was filled with dread that Harry Potter was almost over–over over–and the desire to see it again, before I’d even seen part two. I found part one to be a gripping reintroduction to the world and an introduction to these familiar, loved characters as adults. It truly left off on a cliffhanger that left me with my mouth hanging open. Thank goodness I only have a few hours to wait, I thought as I collected my #keepthesecrets pin and headed off to eat some dinner. Part two was darker, having lost some of its lightheartedness at the conclusion of part one. It was in true Harry Potter fashion, where you’re not able to see the darkness right away, but it slowly grows and spreads tendrils of shadow into the light.

At this point, I think most of the world (or at least those who want it) have their very own copy of Cursed Child. Most people know what happens in the story, but I still don’t want to write about any major spoilers. Reception seems to be divided pretty clearly along the lines of loved it or disliked it. I’m incredibly lucky to have seen it live before reading the novel version, because that will always shape how I see Cursed Child in my memory. To be honest, I haven’t read the novel yet. I want to hold onto those feelings that the play gave me. The belief that it was real. As a result, I’m biased. I absolutely loved it, even with things that were minor problems for me.

Photo credit Manuel Harlan and harrypottertheplay.com

They were perfect. Photo credit: Manuel Harlan and harrypottertheplay.com

Minor problems fall away in the face of stupendous actors. Like any reader, we all have our own idea of what a character should look like, should they be portrayed in a visual installment. I went into Cursed Child with no expectations, because I wasn’t familiar with any of the actors. Seeing the official cast photos had gotten me excited in the way that any Harry Potter related things gets me excited. My feelings were split between being hardly able to wait and not being able to believe that I was going to see Cursed Child. But until I saw them on stage, I didn’t realize how right they were. The trio was portrayed by three amazing actors. They were Harry, Hermione, and Ron. There was no one else. I was able to see echoes of their younger selves in them. Moments from their pasts did affect them but there were also present problems. I loved watching Harry navigate being a father to a son who didn’t feel that Hogwarts was a home as much as he had. Their conflict was so real. Watching it was painful and familiar. Heartbreaking, yet able to touch my heart.

I’m a tiny bit surprised at who ended up becoming my favorite character. I’ve always liked Draco because I found his character growth to be really fascinating, and that continues in Cursed Child. It was no surprise that I still liked him, and Alex Price’s portrayal of a man who was still atoning for his past and someone who was jealous of what he hadn’t had as a child was wonderful. A perfect fit. As much as he’s tried to make a better life for his son, Scorpius, Draco’s past has also harmed him. Scorpius, however, doesn’t let that define him. I loved Anthony Boyle’s portrayal of Scorpius’ kindness and quirkiness. He was an earnest, hilarious, and nerdy character. I loved when he and Sam Clemmett, who plays Albus, were on the stage interacting. It was the best.  He was my favorite character because I found him to be so well-rounded, and Boyle portrayed him perfectly. He was the one who stole the show for me.

Although Scorpius and Albus were not alive during the days when Voldemort existed, the fear that someone like Voldemort could come again still exists in the magical community. They also have to deal with their parents pasts as they navigate their own futures. That they found each other and balanced each other out is perhaps the most touching thing about Cursed Child.

Can we just take a moment to look at how perfect they are together? Photo credit: Manuel Harlan and harrypottertheplay.com

Can we just take a moment to look at how perfect they are together?
Photo credit: Manuel Harlan and harrypottertheplay.com

In the time that I saw Cursed Child  to writing this, J.K. Rowling has announced that three short story collections will be published. So it’s not quite over. But after seeing Cursed Child, I think that Harry, Hermione, Ron, and Draco’s roles are. I’ll always love them, but I think I’m ready to let them live their lives without needing to know what’s next for them. Cursed Child gave me that conclusion, and I’m really happy with what it was.

As impossible as it is now–seats are sold out until at least next year, according to the harried employees at the Palace Theatre box office–I do hope that one day, someday soon, it will be easier for people to see the magic for themselves.

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1 Comment

  1. Pingback: A Year in Review: Top Reads of 2016 | a cup of tea and an armful of books

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