Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: A #KeepTheSecrets Review

When my friend and I arrived in London we walked through King’s Cross Station, passed Platforms 9 and 10, wandered through the Platform 9 ¾ store, and then made our way to the underground. A magical start to what promised to be a magical day.

The Palace Theatre took our breaths away as soon as we saw it. It stood diagonally across the street from us, with the logo and title of the show emblazoned in a large, beautiful sign. We stood there in awe and read it in excitement: HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD

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It’s real. It’s happening. We’re going to see the play. The play we never thought we’d actually get the chance to see. The play so many of our friends only wish they could see. And we’re here. And it’s not fiction. It’s real. It’s happening.

I’m so so grateful for this opportunity. I’ve never lived so in the present. Not one second was taken for granted.

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The line to get inside was SO long. It literally wrapped all the way around the massive building. As I passed the other excited audience members to get to the end of the line I wore my Ravenclaw tie proudly and looked at all the people in their subtle “cosplay.” Gryffindor scarves, Slytherin robes, Hufflepuff pins, Hogwarts t-shirts. No one wore an extravagant costume, no one was there pretending to be anyone else, they were being themselves. They know which House they’re in, and now they’re going to Hogwarts. We’re going to go together for, like Harry, this is our home.

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I bought my souvenirs immediately: a t-shirt, keychain, bookmarks, whatever I could afford. I just knew this was going to be one of the best days of my life, and I wanted the memorabilia to commemorate it. Then I moved through the thick, excited crowd to my seat. I had shockingly high seats, and I sat there feeling like Harry Potter at the 422nd Quidditch World cup. Luckily I had omnioculars binoculars to use to watch the show. So I was fine. More than fine. I was overwhelmed with excitement.

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The lights go dim. Hundreds of people hold their breath. Hands applaud. The play begins. And it’s absolutely magical.

And by magical I mean MAGICAL. Half the time I wasn’t sure if I was at a play or a magician show. The stage magic was phenomenal, and there were multiple occasions throughout both parts of the play that had the audience gasping, sitting at the edge of their seats as they tried to figure out how what was happening on stage was actually happening. It’s a play about witches and wizards with an incredible budget, of course the stage magic would be impressive, but it’s been a few weeks since I saw the show and I’m still scratching my head at some of the impressive magic they did on that stage.

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Image copyright: Manuel Harlan                http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-36471047 

The acting was more than exceptional. Anthony Boyle as Scorpius Malfoy stole the show, though the entire cast was incredibly impressive. Poppy Miller (Ginny) and Paul Thornley (Ron) stood out for me especially. Meanwhile Noma Dumezweni (Hermione) was without a doubt the single most talented person on that stage, and she proves that anyone who says Hermione can’t be black is dead wrong. She’s exceptional, and I’m so glad she was cast as Hermione. And I’m so glad Hermione wasn’t the only race-bent character in the play!

There were several tiny moments that really made the play for me. The choreographed scene changes were full of waving robes and flashing lights. And the music was beautiful. I was glad it was different from the films, it gave the play its own unique feel. The only critique I would have of the music was that Imogen Heap recycled bars from some of her other songs. I shouldn’t be able to hum along to a song I supposedly haven’t heard before. But hopefully she’ll fix that before the premier, I did only see a preview performance, after all.

Unfortunately the music isn’t my biggest critique. I think actor Anthony Boyle (Scorpius Malfoy) summarizes my concern perfectly in this tweet:

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My concern, a concern shared by many of the fans that have read the plot spoilers here  (with extra details here) is very simple: in my opinion the story itself is utter rubbish. And a poor plot is a pretty big problem when most of the fans aren’t going to get to see the magical performance, when all they’re going to get is the script to read this July.

Now I can forgive a silly plot, but I have a harder time forgiving an offensive one. I make this statement after very careful consideration, and I do not use these terms flippantly: this play is outright sexist and homophobic. And while I can appreciate the attempt at anti-racism with the hiring of black actors, it’s important to remember that the majority of people consuming this piece of media aren’t going to see the show, but rather only read the script.

My friend and I came out of the first half of part one feeling very good. We were very excited about the developments of the story, and we really loved it thus far. By the time the first part finished and we were waiting for part two I had some concerns, but we agreed that overall we were really enjoying ourselves. By the intermission of the second part we agreed that the play felt like Jack Thorne and John Tiffany had written some fan fiction and somehow got JK Rowling’s approval to turn it into a play (this sentiment has been agreed on by many of the fans who have read the plot spoilers, some comparing it to “My Immortal.”) I came out of the end of part two on the verge of tears. I walked out of that theatre and had to stop on the sidewalk to catch my breath. I was devastated.

We walked into that theatre with our House colours emblazoned with pride.
We thought we were going home, but somehow we ended up at Privet Drive.

My only hope is that the preview show I saw changes before the premier and that the script that’s released demonstrates these changes. The changes would only need to be minor in order for the play to not be completely offensive, (especially the final scene between Scorpius and Albus, which I do not feel made any narrative sense.) There’s still time for Rowling, Thorne and Tiffany to do right by the fandom, and they really don’t need magic to do so. We’ll have to wait until July 31st to know if they’ve fixed it; there’s a chance they might, (and I’m actually a bit hopeful!) But only time will tell.

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For reviews/ opinions that DON’T #KeepTheSecrets, I strongly agree with these people:

http://moonysiriusprongs.tumblr.com/post/145823204307

http://cha-bleu.tumblr.com/post/145827738608/scorbus-in-the-cursed-child

http://fandomsinaflash.tumblr.com/post/146052234819/so-ive-spent-a-good-day-going-through-cursed

http://victorkrvm.tumblr.com/post/145683860416/thoughts-on-scorose-and-scorbus-in-cursed-child

http://masha-russia.tumblr.com/post/145850669649/a-disturbing-detail-in-cursed-child

http://sophieeturnerr.tumblr.com/post/145769210611/literally-the-worst-part-of-the-new-harry-potter

http://thefeelsarekillingme.tumblr.com/post/145609783743