I, like many other Potter fans, had pre-ordered my copy of ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ ready to read on the day of release. This, in itself, brought back many happy memories of queueing to get my hands on each new release of the Potter series throught my childhood and teen years. I was ten years old when the first Harry Potter book was published and have remained a true fan ever since. What constitues a true fan? Reading every book from cover to cover on the day of release resulting in no, or little, sleep: check. Regular Harry Potter film marathons: check. Owning a wand: check. Having an Albus Dumbledore quote stencilled on your hallway wall: check. Harry Potter will always be home and for that J.K. Rowling I thank you.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a two-part West End stage play written by Jack Thorne and based on an original new story by Thorne, J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany. The book, written in the form of a play-script, tells the story nineteen years later, where ‘The Deathly Hallows’ left off, with the original trio seeing their school-aged children off to Hogwarts. The story focuses on Albus (Harry and Ginny’s youngest son) and his best friend Scorpius (son of Draco Malfoy) as they set off on an adventure that fuses past and present. Some of J.K. Rowling’s best loved characters also feature in the play, including Neville Longbottom, who is now Professor of Herbology at Hogwarts, and Professor McGongall, the new headteacher.
Although the physical play has received rave reviews, the written playscript has left many HP fans deflated, complaining about the lack of description and branding the book ‘fan fiction’. Agreebly, reading the story as a playsript was odd at first, however I quickly got used to it and, as the world of Harry Potter is so familiar, I was able to use my own imagination to picture the characters, settings and events. I also thoroughly enjoyed the stage directions which I could visulise completely, probably due to the number of West End stage shows I have been to. The mind is a wonderful thing and, upon reading quite plain stage directions, mine has been able to: desgin the entire set, visualise the transitions between sets, plan which doors characters will exit and enter through and decide how the magic will be portrayed using a series of pyrotechnics, invisible wires and trap doors. I feel a career change coming along!
The plot itself is reminsicent of the film ‘The Butterfly Effect’ and explores theories of time travel. The story also touches on family dynamics, particularly between father and son. Although I did enjoy the story, it was evident that this wasn’t purely the work of J.K. Rowling and at times it felt rushed and incomplete. There were elements that annoyed me, things that didn’t quite add up. And as for who the ‘cursed child’ is? Beats me! It could be a multitude of people, but maybe that’s the point?
‘Have you heard me Albus? This is bigger than you and your dad. The smallest moment, the smallest change, it creates ripples. And we – we’ve created really bad ripples.’