Nine years after the release of the final book (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows) in J.K. Rowling's wildly popular series, the author has teamed up with playwright Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany for an eighth instalment of the story – this time, for the stage.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts I and II officially opens on Saturday July 30 at London's Palace Theatre, followed by the global release of the script in book form on Sunday July 31.
And in Dubai, the trains for Hogwarts leaves from Platform 9 3/4 (also known as Virgin Megastore, Mall of the Emirates) at 1.30am on Sunday July 31. What that means in English is that the book will be made available in line with the rest of the world, at 3am. Dressing up is encouraged, and there will be activities, magic and cosplay.
Set 19 years after the climactic Battle of Hogwarts, Rowling fans around the world have been waiting almost a decade to find out what the wizarding gang have been up to. But is the global hype justified? Rave reviews of the London stage show (including Time Out’s) offer a categoric and resounding “yes”.
Some key points in from the script: Harry is now a father, including to Albus Severus Potter, who is embarking on his first year at Hogwarts (along with Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpius – like father like son?), while time travel plays a large role in the plot – could Voldemort return?
While Rowling has previously insisted there will be no movie version following the stage show, could that be a load of Hufflepuff? The film franchise generated roughly US$10 billion (Dhs36.7 billion), which the Eddie Redmayne-helmed Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will no doubt bolster substantially upon its November release, so we’re not giving up hope on Warner Bros. just yet. If not, could the production company be tempted to take the Cursed Child on tour? Rumours abound that it will travel stateside after its run ends in London in May, and with a rapidly expanding portfolio of world-class theatrical venues, Dubai would be a stellar host.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be on sale at all good book stores across Dubai for Dhs100.
WHAT TIME OUT SAYS ABOUT THE LONDON WEST END THEATRE PRODUCTION
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is an absolute hoot, a joyous, big-hearted, incident-packed and magic-heavy romp that has to stand as one of the most unrelentingly entertaining things to hit the West End. If the two-part, five-hour-plus show is a bit on the long side, it’s forgivable. The Cursed Child emphatically exists for fans of Harry Potter, and much of its power derives from the visceral, emotional impact of feeling that you’re in the same room as Rowling’s iconic characters.
There’s also a sense that the story is being treated with the respect its now grown-up fanbase craves. Jamie Parker and Alex Price are superb as battered, damaged, middle-aged versions of old enemies Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy. Sam Clemmett and Anthony Boyle are a fine, puppyish engine to the play as their awkward sons Albus and Scorpius, trying to escape their parents’ shadows. Noma Dumezweni is effortlessly tough as a middle-aged Hermione Granger.
The Cursed Child packs a lot in, but it’s basically a time-travel caper revolving around Albus and Scorpius, miserable at Hogwarts, stealing an experimental Time-Turner (a magical time-travelling device) from Harry. It’s a well-worn fantasy conceit, and Thorne is guilty of mining a few genre clichés. It’s also somewhat episodic. But it does allow Thorne to dip into the breadth of Rowling’s universe in a way that will satisfy pretty much every fan. The special effects are astonishing, albeit sensibly restrained.
Looking backwards more than forwards, The Cursed Child is as much a monument to the Harry Potter series as its continuation. But that’s fine, because never has Rowling’s world felt so vividly, gaspingly, joyously real.