Author: J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
Series: Harry Potter #8
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine
Publication date: July 31st 2016
Source: Purchased at Chapters Indigo
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on 30th July 2016.
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
This Special Rehearsal Edition will be available to purchase until early 2017, after which a Definitive Edition of the script will go on sale.
Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Disclaimer: Light spoilers in this for the beginning of the play and its concept. If you don’t want to know ANYTHING at all, please stop reading now. If you don’t mind a bit more than the synopsis, read on.
Reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is strange thing.
On the one hand, it was a complete and total joy to be back in the wizarding world again, to see all my old favorites and to see brand new characters really spring to life.
On the other hand, it’s a very strange to be reading something that is so definitively not J.K. Rowling’s writing. I feel like it’s akin to when a new writer comes onto a comic book – it often takes them a few issues to settle into the characters, and even though it’s the same characters, and it’s canon, it’s just…different.
Jack Thorne didn’t really get that few issues. But he and John Tiffany did get the opportunity to work with Rowling on this story, so because of that, I assumed that the characters would immediately feel like home.
Unfortunately, they didn’t.
While I’m grateful for the opportunity to read and complete (at least in my head) more of one of my favorite stories of all time, I missed J.K. Rowling’s snappy writing, wit, and plotting. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is more subdued in dialogue, far less complex in plot, and to be honest, kind of predictable compared to the novels. I was able to guess some of the major plot points pretty easily.
As characters, Harry, Ron, Ginny and Hermione didn’t quite feel like the same voices that I loved from the novels (Ginny, in particular, has far less sass than I remember from the novels – that might be because she’s my favorite character, but I was like, “COME ON, give her more!”). Perhaps this is an instance where I really needed to see the play to feel the characters, perhaps this is time passing, but man, I missed Rowling.
That said, the writing is compelling, if not super exciting. I raced through the play, learning to enjoy the progeny of Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione, and yes, Draco and his wife. The focus is on Albus Severus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy this time, but like any epic fantasy, the past never really stays in the past and the sins of the father…etc, etc.
And that’s really the theme of this play. And the only way to resurrect and hammer home that theme is how the playwrights conceived of it: through time travel (more on that in a bit) and through the exploration of the parent-child interactions throughout this play.
These themes feel more mature than in Rowling’s original books, and because of that, I felt like this play had a lot less of the wonder that I felt at the beginning of the series. It’s inevitable, I suppose, because even though we ended Deathly Hallows with a happy-ish ending, the world has changed, Harry has grown up and has children, and he no longer thinks magic is the cure-all for everything. There are more important things.
And here, we really see Harry – and Albus – trying to figure that out. What happens if you CAN’T live up to your father? How do you deal with being the son of The Boy Who Lived? How can you parent a child who has to deal with that? The playwrights don’t have easy answers for this, and I appreciated that even throughout the script, they never took any easy ways out with the characters. The relationships, if nothing else, are complex, especially between parent and child – and if that was what they were going for, then I do feel they achieved it.
Time Travel: I honestly can’t say much here, but let’s just say that if you like time travel, you’ll probably enjoy this aspect of the play. I’m still not convinced that the logic of it worked, but I’d have to go back again or watch the play to really see.
Realistic Teens: Let’s be honest, as much as I loved Harry, Ron and Hermione, there was definitely a side of teenagerhood that was missing from Rowling’s original books: that of the “average teen.” I really appreciated that (mild spoilers) Albus and Scorpius are both really moody and unpopular, because that’s sometimes your experience as a teen.
The Final Word:
Reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a unique experience. I liked it, but I confess to feeling a bit disappointed. Unlike with the novels, the play’s plot, writing and dialogues just didn’t hold up to the standard set by J.K. Rowling’s original series. That said, I think this was an ambitious concept, and one I’m SURE is far more interesting staged than on the page. I am definitely glad I read it, but I do feel like I still want to see it as a play, so I guess it achieved its goal?
HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD is out in bookstores now. Have you read it/watched it yet? What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!