"Awful things happen to wizards who meddle with time, Harry."
- Hermione, Harry Potter and The Prisoner of Azkaban
In the eighth story of the Harry Potter saga, now a play that follows Harry as he struggles balancing his life in the Ministry of Magic, being a husband, and a father of three school children. As his past comes back to haunt him, his youngest son, Albus, struggles at school under the weight of the family name while past and future collide, demonstrating the severe consequences of meddling with time to both father and son.
The original story, created by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne feels like it could have been created by Potter fans who kept asking "what if this happened instead?". However, with the almost magical assistance from the creative team, they suspend the audience's imagination for the entire five and a half hours, making you not want to leave, but also making it feel like no time has passed at all. And you will find yourself continuing to be open mouthed at the spectacles that unfold before you on the stage.
From robes that seem to have an endless number of tricks up their sleeves, to magical fireplaces, you are invited to witness the magic, but you won't be able to figure out how it happened. Much of this is because of set designer Christine Jones, who seamlessly creates the world of Hogwarts, and the alternate realities that Albus finds himself trapped in.
By picking up where the seventh novel ended, it invites the audience back to a familiar scene; Harry (the fantastic Jamie Parker), Ron (the delightfully funny Paul Thornley), Ginny (Poppy Miller), and Hermione (the superb Noma Dumezweni) sending their children to Hogwarts at the start of term.
It's the first year for Harry and Ginny's son Albus (Sam Clemmett) who is resentful and nervous about starting at Hogwarts after being teased by brother James (Benjamin Wheelwright) about possibly being sorted into Slytherin. Also present is Hermione and Ron's daughter Rose (Susan Heyward), who is determined to make the right friends to start off her time at Hogwarts.
The other familiar face on Platform 9 3/4 is Harry's former rival, Draco Malfoy (Alex Price), sending his nerdy and awkward son Scorpius (the scene-stealing Anthony Boyle) off to school. Albus and Scorpius quickly bond over being outcasts, but find their friendship tested when Delphi Diggory (usually played by Jessie Fisher, I saw her cover, Lauren Nicole Cipoletti) comes into their lives after Albus overhears his father's conversation with Amos Diggory. The relationship between the two boys continues to be pushed to the limit as they struggle with their own relationships with their fathers.
At it's core, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is about family, and about finding oneself. It tells a tale of mending broken relationships and finding those who accept you for who you are.
Though the audience asked to "keep the secrets" as they leave the theater, it allows the future audiences to come through the doors of the refurbished Lyric Theatre with excitement and anticipation, not knowing what is awaiting them. And it should be exactly like that.