Two London newspapers broke with reviewing tradition and posted critiques of the new Harry Potter stage play—Harry Potter and the Cursed Child—after a single preview of the first of two parts June 7.
The Mirror and The Telegraph posted generally worded critiques, though producers may be comforted by the fact that both were raves. The Telegraph described the show as “trickery of the highest sophistication” and added that “any fears that the world of Hogwarts on stage would struggle to compete with the multi-million dollar special effects of film were quickly kicked into touch.” The Mirror awarded the play five stars (of a possible five).
Part Two plays its first preview June 8. The official opening isn't scheduled until July 30.
The critics flew in the face of an appeal from original author J.K. Rowling, who implored fans to keep the play's secrets. Daily Mail columnist Baz Bamigboye tweeted one of them, which you can read here if you don't mind a spoiler, and was lashed in the same forum by unhappy fans as a result.
Because the show is opening “cold” in London without a tryout, producers scheduled an unusually long seven-week preview period.
This isn't the first time that London papers have broken a publishing embargo and reviewed a show in previews. The same happened with Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet in 2015. Nevertheless, it a highly unusual practice. Especially for new shows or new productions that need a period to work out any creative problems, critics generally withhold reviews until the producer decides the show is ready and declares an opening night.