How intense is Harry Potter & The Cursed Child?
August 19, 2016 5:09 AM   Subscribe

My kids (six and eight years old) want to see Harry Potter & The Cursed Child, but the recommended age on the website is 10 years old. I'm trying to avoid spoilers, so I'm reluctant to do too much googling on this. And I'd strongly prefer to see the play before I read the text. So, I'm hoping some MeFites have seen the play and can advise. How would you say it compares in scariness and overall intensity to (for example) the Harry Potter movies?

I'm also open to advice from people who have read the text but haven't seen it performed, but first-hand accounts of the actual performance would be most helpful. A stage direction like "A dragon appears" can be charming or utterly terrifying, depending on how it's staged. This is a madeup example and not a spoiler. I do not know if there are actual dragons in the play.

Ignore for the moment the low likelihood of getting tickets. I'm willing to queue for last-minute tickets and see if I get lucky, but not if the end result will be traumatized children.

And finally, I'd be grateful if you could keep your answer as vague and spoiler-free as possible. "It's very emotionally intense" is a great answer. "There's a very intense death scene" would be more spoiler-y than I'd like. Again, made up example. I do not actually know if anybody dies and I'd like to keep it that way.
posted by yankeefog to Media & Arts (8 answers total)
Best answer: I am messaging you as I believe even the answer to the question is a spoiler.
posted by Iteki at 5:37 AM on August 19, 2016

Response by poster: FYI Iteki's answer was very helpful (and not particularly spoilerish in my book.) If anybody wants me to pass it on to them, message me and I'll send it on (assuming Iteki doesn't mind-- Iteki, is that OK with you?)
posted by yankeefog at 5:55 AM on August 19, 2016

Best answer: Works for me. It boils down to don't bother with the script, see the play, don't sweat spoilers per se for the randomly curious.
posted by Iteki at 6:19 AM on August 19, 2016

I have read the script but not seen it performed. To me, there was nothing more scary than anything in the existing HP movies. I would put it somewhere around the 4th or 5th book in terms of the scary things that happen (so nothing as bad as the cave in the 6th book, for example).
posted by jouir at 12:04 PM on August 19, 2016

Fair warning that the story has a rather different tone than the books (I think it's due to being written by someone else) and that's honestly much more likely to be traumatising than the actual content.
posted by Tamanna at 1:14 PM on August 19, 2016

Also keep in mind that part of the warning on the website may be to deter young children who have trouble behaving appropriately in a live theatre environment that is not specifically intended for young children. I don't mean to sound negative on the "appropriate behavior" aspect, but even quietish comments or questions from a child to a parent could be very distracting when you have actors and people trying to hear them, moreso than in a movie where the show goes on anyway and there's often background music. A six year old just might not be up for extended silence, and it's not really a matter of maturity or good manners -- I think I would be freaked out if a six year old could do that.
TLDR: you might want to call the box office and get their reason for the warning. It might not be all about the scare factor.
posted by dness2 at 3:09 PM on August 19, 2016 [1 favorite]

I read the play and I don't think it's any more scary than any of the HP films or books. I don't think a child would find it nearly as interesting as the original books though--it's just not as much fun and I can't see a kid enjoying a play with so many middle-aged characters.

On the other hand, everyone who claims to have seen the theatrical production says it was amazing (while those who read the script were almost uniformly disappointed), so seeing it live is likely worth it--the special effects are supposed to be really cool.
posted by armadillo1224 at 9:33 PM on August 19, 2016

Response by poster: I've now seen the play here in London, as has my eight-year-old and another eight-year-old friend. I can report that despite some scary spots, they both loved the play and want to see it again. So I would say that an 8-year-old who has read and enjoyed the books can see the play without being traumatized.

However, we did not bring our six-year-old, which I think was the right choice. Some of the scary bits would be too scary, and some of the dialogue-heavy bits would be too slow.

On a related note, tickets are not quite as hard to get as I had feared, especially if you are flexible about the date you see it. For me, the key was to check the ticketing site repeatedly at random times. Do this often enough and eventually you will be there at at the moment returned tickets become available, and you can snap them up.

Based purely on my anecdotal experience, the Nimax ticketing site is more likely to have availability than ATG. Also, single or double tickets seemed more common than four tickets at once, so if you're booking for your family, have a discussion in advance about who gets to go first if you can't get tickets for everybody. (In our case, we only got two tickets initially, so my wife and daughter saw it together. Then a few weeks later, I was able to get one ticket for myself.)

Also anecdotally, I gather that many people have had good luck queuing for return tickets on the day of performance. It seems to be luck of the draw how far in advance you have to queue -- I've heard of one person getting there at 5AM, and another just waltzing into the box office when it opened and getting returns with no queuing.

Another option is The Friday Forty, but personally, I think it's a mug's game. The whole world is competing for those 40 tickets. If you're at your computer at 1PM London time on a Friday, you might as well give it a try, but I think you're more likely to get tickets by one of the methods above.
posted by yankeefog at 1:46 AM on October 6, 2016

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