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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child reviews roundup: Theatre critics spellbound by new JK Rowling play


Jess Denham
Tuesday 26 July 2016 08:04 BST
Sam Clemmett and Jamie Parker as Albus Severus and his father Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Sam Clemmett and Jamie Parker as Albus Severus and his father Harry Potter in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Manuel Harlan)

Expectations have been running sky-high for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child from the moment JK Rowling announced that her first new Hogwarts story in nine years would be presented to her millions of loyal fans as a play.

The lavish production has now officially opened at the West End’s Palace Theatre after two months of previews and sceptical readers can breathe a big sigh of relief for the critics are spellbound.

The Independent describes the play as “truly magical…a play of immense wonder” in a five-star review, while the Guardian praises director John Tiffany for “masterminding a thrilling spectacle” and Radio Times calls it “genuinely spectacular” with “mind-bogglingly clever” stagecraft.

Split into two parts, Cursed Child requires stamina at five hours long but, as The Daily Mail notes, “Potter addicts will love it”. However, Quentin Letts did find the play’s marathon duration “artistically self-indulgent”, writing that he believed it could have been edited down into a single performance.

Nevertheless, the Evening Standard enjoys how “packed with pathos” the storyline is, revolving around the unlikely friendship between Potter’s son Albus (Sam Clemmett) and his enemy Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpius (Anthony Boyle). There are plenty of in-jokes, too, “guaranteed to make the most ardent devotee quiver with delighted recognition”. The Telegraph’s Dominic Cavendish took his seat doubting playwright Jack Thorne’s ability to bring the franchise back to life and left branding Cursed Child a “triumph” that “grips, stirs and delights”.

Poppy Miller and Jamie Parker as Ginny and Harry Potter (Manuel Harlan)

It’s not just the UK press who are raving about Cursed Child. The play has also earned glowing reviews from US critics, prompting speculation that it will head to Broadway in due course. “Simply spellbinding…a proper theatrical blockbuster with a big, big heart” says Variety, while The New York Times gives the much-hyped play the thumbs up for “capturing Rowling’s sensibility even more persuasively than the special effects-driven films”.

The next generation of Hogwarts “drive the action”, but Entertainment Weekly also applauds the performances of Noma Dumezweni as Hermione, Jamie Parker as Harry and Paul Thornley as Ron, labelling the latter the “best of the trio” for his “spot-on” delivery of dad jokes.

Fans are handed badges reading “Keep the Secrets” when leaving the theatre, so reviews have remained relatively spoiler-free. You’ll have to somehow bag yourself a ticket if you really want to immerse yourself in the magic, but fear not, as by the sounds of things, Cursed Child will be a staple in Theatreland for many years to come.

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