Journalists break embargo on Cursed Child reviews

A prominent London theater critic is contesting the embargo on reviews of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the hotly anticipated theatrical follow-up to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, is currently in previews on the London stage. Specifically, it’s in the middle of a seven-week run of previews; the play officially opens on July 30. According to the Press Gazette, critics have been invited to a press performance on that day. According to tradition, their reviews can go up after that.

Not everybody is a fan of this tradition. Michael Billington, who’s been writing theater reviews for The Guardian since 1971, wrote an opinion piece on the subject after both the Daily Mirror and the Telegraph posted information about the play before the preview period was over. “As operated at present, the whole preview system is outdated, absurd and works against the public interest.” In other words, Harry Potter spoilers for all!

Surely J.K. Rowling, who has encouraged preview audiences not to reveal what happens in the play to others (#KeepTheSecrets) would disagree with Billington, and she’s not alone. Paddy Smith, the online editor at The Stage, called breaking the embargo “bad form.”

We wouldn’t break an embargo unless we thought there was a very good reason to.  It’s no different from having a product review under embargo. We are all competing in the same environment now. We are all aware that when people go in and do this they are doing it to gain an unfair advantage in [online] search benefit. It’s just foul play.

Smith also reasoned that the point of a preview period is so a play can work out the kinks, so advance reviews may not accurately reflect the production. And with a play as complicated as Cursed Child, the preview period is likely to be long.

In any case, we here at Wizards and Whatnot don’t have many reservations about giving things away, so head here if you’d like to know more.