I find it tricky to tell by reading a manuscript whether a play will necessarily translate well to the stage. But then, I’m not a director.
Even something as classic as Shakespeare can come across as boring if you limit yourself to experiencing it through the printed page. But to see a top-notch Shakespeare production can make me howl with laughter or weep.
While I can appreciate his body of work for the incredibly skilled use of language he employed, I would much rather watch a Globe On Screen production of the play, where the actors help the characters leap off the page and the director is able to convey the story through the action even when I might not understand the dialogue.
It’s not just Shakespeare. Any play is best experienced in a performance. Reading a play manuscript gets you the summary of the story, but it’s only half the experience.
All this is preamble to my opinion about the latest J.K. Rowling effort, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Because it’s written in play manuscript, I’m having trouble deciding how to rate it.
On it’s own merits, I can’t give it particularly high praise. In comparison to the incredible story arc, fantastic character development, and the fun and imaginative world-building that marked the incredibly well-crafted series of Harry Potter novels, this new entry comes up lacking – at least from a read-only perspective. The scenes felt rushed. The characters lacked anything beyond the simplest development. The writing had some humour, but even the storyline felt like it was patched together – a bunch of scenes held together by a framing device.
I enjoyed it enough to finish reading, but I have to think it would have been much better as a novel.
OR, it would have been better to see it on stage.
I’m sure it will make it’s way to North America sooner or later, and maybe then I’ll have a chance to see it. Maybe then I’ll be more favourable with my review. But for now, I can’t recommend it too highly.
Die-hard Harry Potter fans will enjoy it for bringing us back to that wonderful wizarding world, but frankly, you’re not missing anything monumental by giving this one a miss.
Still…I’ll likely see a production if I get the chance. Just in case.