In 2019, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child had its Australian premiere in Melbourne in its award-winning original two-part format. Cut to 3 years later and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has been reimagined as a single format show. With a mostly new cast and in a shortened format of 3 hours and 30 minutes, I know exactly what you’re wondering. Is this reimagined production worth seeing?
It’s no secret that I am a massive Harry Potter fan. I remember when I read all the books, I identified with being in Ravenclaw. I remember dressing up in cosplay whenever a new movie would come out and I’d go the cinemas in my wizarding robes complete with my house scarf and wand. More recently, I’ve fallen in love with the experience of film concerts, seeing the Harry Potter films on a big screen accompanied with a live symphony orchestra, and have adored the original two-part version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. So, admittedly, I was a little hesitant with seeing this newer, streamlined production. If you are a massive Harry Potter fan, chances are, you’ve already seen the two-part series. If you haven’t, the new format is still magical. But there are pros and cons.
Synopsis wise, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, despite its title, focuses more on the adventures of Albus Severus Potter and his best friend Scorpius Malfoy. More so lead by Albus with his desire to right one of his father’s wrongs from the past. If you love the idea of multiverses, this is the Harry Potter franchise’s answer to the multiverse story.
In the original format, there were various scenes that were incredibly moving and provided a lot of heart and depth to the story. Unfortunately, many of these scenes have now been omitted from the new show. Perhaps the play’s greatest loss is that we no longer have any scenes with Hagrid. The scene with Hagrid at Harry’s house after the murder of Harry’s parents where Hagrid is seen grieving over his friends, with the crib on fire, sobbing while holding a surviving baby Harry in his arms – was a powerful scene that always moved me to tears, and yet is something that we will never see in Australia again.
Scorpius’ growth and journey in his relationship with his father is just a little bit less, as we never get to see the alternate reality where Scorpius has a realisation and bonding moment with his dad, who in the alternate world is Head of Law Enforcement at the Ministry of Magic. They share a moment together mourning the loss of Scorpius late mother. But we never will see that again.
Lastly, in the original script, a big part of the divide between young Albus and Harry is Albus’ belief that things would be better between him and his father if he were in Gryffindor. But we never get to see it now. There were even patrons at the show I attended that were confused, as they had read the Cursed Child script book and recall reading that Albus changes houses in the storyline.
If you haven’t read the script book though, and if you haven’t seen the original two-part production, then seeing this reimagined version of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be fine to watch because you can’t exactly miss what you never saw. The entire award-winning show being amended is not for artistic purposes but is a choice to make the show more accessible. Not everyone has a spare 5 hours and 15 minutes and admittedly, I was relieved timewise to have seen the story in one sitting.
Despite this criticism, there are many positives to take home about this new production and I thoroughly enjoyed the dialogue changes the most. No longer is Scorpius seen to be somewhat forcefully romantically invested in Rose Granger-Wesley, and Polly Chapman doesn’t even exist anymore, let alone neither does the ‘Blood Ball’. Instead, the relationship is intensified between Scorpius and Albus, which honestly makes me ship them even more, especially now that it appears the relationship is canon and feels official. It also helps that Nyx Calder and Ben Walter have fantastic energy exchanges and chemistry on stage. I enjoyed new cast members Lachlan Woods and Abdul ‘Min’ Muhaimin who provide refreshing takes on their characters Draco Malfoy and Craig Bowker Jr. And I love how original cast member Gareth Reeves somehow gets better and better at every show with his performance in the iconic role of Harry Potter.
With the amendments to make Harry Potter and the Cursed Child much shorter and easier to digest, I found that this version was a lot more serious and didn’t have as many laughable moments. However, all the incredible theatrical magic that we have seen in the original two-part production is still in this one. While the original production will always be superior, known for its accolades and passionately appreciated and missed by to those who made time to see it. If you haven’t already seen Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, this new reimagined production is the next best thing.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is currently playing at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre.
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Please note: Tickets were obtained to a preview performance for the purpose of this review.