I love Harry Potter. I really do. I could probably go into detail and devote a whole post to why it’s my favorite and what it’s meant to me over the past 17ish years, but instead I’ll try to stick to just one topic: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
I first heard of the play during what I would consider an emotionally charged time. It was almost a year ago, and I had just gotten back from a spontaneous trip to Germany for Oktoberfest. I was still coming to terms with a rough break-up (the reason why I booked said spontaneous trip to Germany), I had recently moved to a new neighborhood and was still adjusting, and I was dealing with some serious post-travel blues. To me, traveling is a double-edged sword. The feeling I get when I’m experiencing something new in a place I’ve never been is exhilarating, it’s addicting. But each vacation exposes me to people and places that inspire even more trips, and I end up coming home with a bucket list that’s much longer than when I left. It can feel a bit discouraging when you start thinking about time and work and money, and how you’ll probably never cross off everything on your list. So that was my state of mind when I saw a post on Facebook that J.K. Rowling had co-written a play that was a sequel to the Harry Potter series, and it was going to premiere in London the following summer. I talked to my friend Michelle who I hadn’t seen in a while, she jumped on board to go with me, and then all of a sudden I was waking up at 5:00 AM eastern time to participate in the pre-sale, and then I got the email confirmation for the tickets and that was how the base of our London & Iceland trip was planned.
Flash forward ten months to about one month ago, and we were on our way to London! We had planned the trip so that the play was on our last day, so we had lots of time to explore the city. There’s a lot to do and see in London, and I think we checked off pretty much all of the major stuff. We saw the Tower of London, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Platform 9 ¾, Abbey Road, the Globe Theatre, and a lot more. We even managed to squeeze in a day trip to Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Oxford. There is so much history in London (and in England in general), and I’ve added quite a few books to my reading list. Since the trip I’ve been binge-watching The Tudors on Netflix, but I want to read about that time period too. I’m also interested in the British monarchy in general. And after this trip, I definitely want to clear the dust off my Shakespeare and Sherlock Holmes collections.
But then came the day of the play! I was super excited to see it. I had bought the book when it came out, but I had decided not to read it until after watching the play. My theory was that it was created to be watched, not read. And since we ended up spending a lot of money on the tickets and trip, I wanted to experience it in the element it was intended to be. We picked up the tickets in the morning, and there was an almost-crisis when I didn’t realize the tickets had fallen out of my bag. Thankfully there was a very kind woman who saw it happen and picked them up for us so we were in the clear (Dear God, please bless this woman and her family). We ate lunch in Chinatown (where I successfully ate fried rice with chopsticks) and then it was play time!
I’m not going to give anything away here, but I have to say that the play was amazing! The special effects alone were incredible; I honestly don’t know how they did it. The music was perfect, too, it helped to really create the right atmosphere. If you’ve read the book, you know that there is at least one scene with dementors, and I have to admit that I was legitimately (though only slightly) afraid during that part. But overall I thought the acting was incredible, and that’s what really brought the story together. The cast was so talented, and they did a great job of bringing these much-loved and well-known characters to life in a different format. For me personally, the star of the show wasn’t Jamie Parker or Sam Clemmett (who play Harry and Albus respectively), but it was Anthony Boyle (who played Scorpius) that stole my heart. He brought a lot of personality to the role, and looking back on the experience I have to say that he helped to make Scorpius my favorite character in Cursed Child.
When it comes to the book itself, most of my friends had read it as soon as it was released, so they knew the story before I did. When I talked to a few of them about it, the general consensus was one of slight disappointment. Some of the best things about the original Harry Potter series are the background descriptions and character insights, things that are lost in a screenplay. I think they felt that it was hard to really get into the story because for the most part they were only reading the dialogue. I read the book after I got back from my trip, and I have to admit I understand where they’re coming from. I found myself drawing on my memories of the play when I needed help visualizing a scene, and I could see how it would be difficult to become absorbed in the story without having seen it performed first.
Regardless, I loved Cursed Child, though in a different way from the original Harry Potter series. It’s bittersweet to admit it, but I think it was a fitting end to the Harry Potter story. Mostly, though, I’m just grateful that I had the opportunity to see the play performed live. It was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime kind of experience, and it formed the base of what is now one of the best vacations I’ve ever had. This is definitely something that I’ll be talking about for years to come.