HARRY POTTER IS BACK (just in case you haven’t heard! 🙂 For all who spent their eleventh birthday wondering where your Hogwarts acceptance letter was and have spent the last nine years wondering where Harry and company were now, the wait is over. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is now not just a play in London but a book/script you can read wherever you happen to be. (Even here in Berryville, Arkansas – visit our online library catalog to learn more and place a hold!)
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child opens exactly where the seventh book ends, with Harry seeing his second son Albus off for his first year at Hogwarts. From there, it covers Albus’s budding friendship with a certain young Malfoy, Harry’s middle-aged woes, and a new danger from the past that threatens everything.
I had to do a little research to figure out how much involvement Rowling had in creating the play. According to the most thorough discussion I could find, Rowling–as a novelist–was uneasy about writing a script on her own, so the story was her idea and she collaborated with John Tiffany and Jack Thorne on the development of the play, but they were the ones who actually wrote it.
As I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy reading plays, though I did find this one a little hard to evaluate simply because I do think the story lends itself well toward the stage and is probably best evaluated as a performed play. A lot of the stage directions also suggested special effects and visuals that sounded absolutely stunning, so I hope at some point the play is filmed, to allow people who don’t have the ways or means to attend in London the ability to watch it on stage as it was intended.
My favorite part of the play were the dynamics of the new relationships established in it. I particularly enjoyed Albus’s friendship with Scorpius Malfoy. They were both adorable little misfits living in the shadow of their paternal and familial legacies. I appreciated, too, that the two boys were not just clones of their famous parents and had their own individual personalities and friendship dynamic.
I also liked the glimpses of Harry as an adult. Though it’s a little depressing seeing The Boy Who Lived as an adult with a boring job, it also seems weirdly fitting. I’m sure that after having saved the world as a teenager, most of adulthood is going to seem comparatively tame, and the play does an intriguing job of developing this side of Harry. In any event, I felt like the play’s most affecting emotional moments derived from Harry’s often uneasy interactions with his son, as well as his son’s friendship with his father’s childhood arch-rival.
That being said, I also did find the plot itself very convoluted and, as a result, I noticed some plot holes, both in relation to the other stories and within the text itself.
I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t read, but part of the convoluted-ness was just inherent in the direction the story goes, and I imagine that seeing the action played out on stage would be easier to follow.
Part of it is also the plot entails a lot of time spent on past events. On one hand, those can easily evoke nostalgia for a reader as these important moments are revisited, but it also adds to some of the confusion and a couple of those scenes also seemed overly fan fiction-y to me. (Again, I don’t want to be too specific to avoid being a spoiler, but I would be interested in comparing notes in the comments with those who have finished the script.)
In fairness to Rowling and her coauthors, though, I can definitely see how the opportunity to tell a new Harry Potter story would naturally cause the writer to want to explore/address scenes that fans have been debating and analyzing for years. Regardless, I thought that the parts that worked best were the ones that were more original to this story and less dependent on the mythology of previous entries in the series.
Nevertheless, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is certainly an interesting addition to the Harry Potter universe and one that fans will want to read so that they can catch up with Harry and the whole gang.