Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the highly-anticipated play continuing the story of J.K. Rowling’s blockbuster book series, doesn’t officially open until July 30 in London’s West End, but it’s already in previews, and critics’ reviews are pouring in. Most are completely enamored with the play, co-created by Rowling with British creatives Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. The two-part play clocks in at over five hours, making for an all-day experience, a density that many critics found more in line with Rowling’s original books than their studio film adaptations.
Upon leaving the theater, Cursed Child viewers are given a complimentary button imploring them to Keep the Secrets. Most critics did so, and fans worried about spoilers can read these excerpts without too much worry; most are also careful to note spoilers in their reviews as well. Check out the critical highlights below.
James Hibberd (Entertainment Weekly)
“Author J.K. Rowling, working with London theatre veterans Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, have delivered a production that’s as spectacular as it is ambitious, stuffed with special effects and twists that had a preview audience gasping, Cursed Child is a story that doesn’t play it safe with the Potter canon and will change how fans see certain favorite characters forever.” A-
Ben Brantley (The New York Times)
“Like the novels that preceded it, The Cursed Child is stuffed with arcana-filled plots that defy diagrams and baldly wrought sentimental life lessons, along with anguished dives into the earnest, tortured solipsism of adolescence. By rights, such a combination should try the patience of any grown-up. But like Ms. Rowling’s books, the play vanquishes resistance.”
Michael Billington (The Guardian)
“If I’m honest, 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. The set is dominated by Victorian gothic arches, more reminiscent of St Pancras than King’s Cross, and by the brilliant use of suitcases and portable stairways. An exciting escape on top of a moving train is evoked through a line of luggage and the estrangement of Albus and Scorpius is suggested by flights of steps that move as nimbly as Fred Astaire.” 4/5 stars
Dominic Cavendish (Telegraph)
“Well, those involved can give themselves a pat on the back. It’s a triumph. Not an unqualified one – there are some quibbles – but in all key respects, it grips, it stirs, it delights.” 5/5 stars
Jack Shepherd (Independent)
“Well, Harry Potter fans, you will be glad to know that JK Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany have created a theatre production of immense wonder, one that is highly referential to Harry Potter stories past and is, above all, truly magical.” 5/5 stars
Matt Trueman (Variety)
“Rowling has found a neat way to revisit her original, allowing for both novelty and nostalgia. Without giving those secrets away, her plot has shades of fan-fiction to it, revealing the past anew and prodding at its possibilities.”
Leslie Felperin (The Hollywood Reporter)
“Surprisingly, it turns out that the medium of theater is a better fit for the material than film, because in a theater magic tricks really look, well, magical. No one speculates with awe these days over how filmmakers can make a boy fly on a broom, or a dementor float, or one character transform into someone else on the screen because the answer is always pretty much VFX. Yet, when this production uses a simple lighting trick to suggest a ripple in the fabric of time, or makes someone disappear in a phone box (almost literally the oldest magic trick in the book), these dusty theatrical sleights actually draw gasps and applause from the audience — perhaps not unlike the first stage audiences for Peter Pan.”