'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child': What do critics love about it?

Reviews for the upcoming 'Potter' stage play are so far very positive. What about the show has so impressed reviewers?

Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters
'Harry Potter' author J.K. Rowling.

Critics say the magic is real in the new London play “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” which is set in the world of the popular boy wizard and which is earning stellar reviews. 

“Potter” is currently in previews in the West End and is scheduled to officially open on July 30, which “Potter” fans know is the day before Harry’s birthday. A version of the script of the show will be released in stores on July 31. 

“Potter” stars Sam Clemmett as Albus Potter, son of Harry (played by Jamie Parker); and Ginny Potter (Poppy Miller); and Anthony Boyle as Scorpius Malfoy, son of Harry’s old school enemy, Draco (Alex Price). Paul Thornley and Noma Dumezweni play Ron and Hermione Weasley, respectively. 

The play is directed by John Tiffany and the script is by Jack Thorne. “Potter” author J.K. Rowling worked on the production. 

So far, reviews of the new show have been very positive. While many reviewers are being secretive about the show’s plot, what about the production won them over? 

Ben Brantley of The New York Times praises the actor who took on the role of Harry, writing, “Jamie Parker… does Potter pain beautifully.” Mr. Brantley also enjoyed Mr. Thornley and Ms. Dumezweni’s performances and wrote that “Mr. Thorne, Mr. Tiffany and their movement director, Steven Hoggett, and set designer, Christine Jones … are all expert in mapping the intersection of the uncanny and the everyday. Along with a team that includes Katrina Lindsay (costumes), Neil Austin (lighting) and Imogen Heap (music), Mr. Tiffany and his cast conjure the self-contained world(s) of Ms. Rowling’s books with imagistic wit, precision and, occasionally, stark terror.”

And Chris Jones of the Chicago Tribune was also impressed with Parker, writing that he is a “fine actor” and that the effects are impressive, with “characters constantly disappear[ing] inside magic cloaks, the scenery shak[ing] as if one of Harry’s many unpleasant dreams, fire and brimstone arrives when needed.” 

Mr. Jones felt it all came down to the messages of Ms. Rowling’s stories. “’Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ works because it centers on, and feels so utterly consistent with, the two central themes of the Potter books. One is that every child deserves a loving family…. Pain, Rowling always has written, is central to the human experience. Its arrival is inevitable. And thus parents cannot protect their children from agony, they only can prepare them.”

Meanwhile, Michael Billington of The Guardian also praised Tiffany’s work, writing that he “has masterminded a thrilling theatrical spectacle,” though Mr. Billington writes that those who don’t know the details of the “Potter” world may be a bit confused at times. “I relied heavily on the expertise of my 11-year-old grandson,” he writes. However, Billington writes that “I got as much pleasure from the staging as from the convoluted story. Tiffany and his designer, Christine Jones, have created magic out of the simplest ingredients…. Any danger that the effects would upstage the actors is overcome by a set of strong performances.”

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