Joanne K Rowling, a name known by everyone and worshiped by many. She is the creator of the Wizarding Universe of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, Ron Weasley, the icon trio. The story of how these three defeat the evil wizard Voldemort is an incredibly popular seven-volume coming-of-age story, which is accompanied by an even more popular eight part movie series. And with every big epos comes a fan base, in this case the potter heads, who can’t get enough of their hero and the wizarding world. Therefore it is not surprising that Rowling keeps on producing stories based on the original novels. In this case it is ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’. But surprisingly it is not a novel and it is not written by J. K. Rowling herself. Even though her name is the biggest on the cover of the playwright, it was Jack Thorne who wrote the play, based on a story by him, John Tiffany and of course J. K. Rowling. And to make it clear, it is a play, , a ‘special rehearsal edition script’ as the cover says .
Since Rowling announced the release date for the book, the fan base had been waiting for it, pre-ordering it on Amazon and counting down the days. But instead of putting the book next to the novels on the Harry Potter altar, many fans were disappointed and I can see why.
First of all the plot seems very lush. It starts off where the last novel has ended. 19 years after the final battle against the evil Voldemort, Harry and his friends say their goodbyes to their children, who then depart to the Hogwartstrain which will bring them to the school of wizards and witches .t. Everything seems to be fine. But when Harrys younger son Albus gets sorted into Slytherin instead of Griffindor as everyone expected and becomes friends with Scorpius, the son of Harrys former antagonist Draco Malfoy, it seems like an interesting plot twist. But now the story needs a new antagonist to the main character Albus. And this seems to be Harry the not-understanding, self-concerned father who can’t connect with his middle child. Another unknown antagonist is a mysterious child of Voldemort, who could be a threat of the happy wizarding society. This is the point where most Potter fans start to dislike the play script: our beloved Harry as a bad father, telling his son ‘there are times I wish you weren’t my son’, while at the same time the seemingly asexual Voldemort is having a thriving child.
But sadly the plot doesn’t get much more interesting, the two friends Albus and Scorpius travel in time and visit almost all of the known places and scenarios of the novels and mess with them. This is not very original but gives the fans a melancholic comeback into their beloved world. Due to time travel the existing world gets changed, and it seems like the most popular fanfictions have come true in the alternative worlds only in order to reinforce the original ending of the novels, and reinforcing the meaning of all the actions.
The play ends with a final battle of Harry, his friends and his son against the child of Voldemort. Again, this doesn’t seem to be very original, but it makes sense since the story was always about fighting Voldemort in one or the other way. This still doesn’t make up for the feeling in the end that it seemed a little too easy to defeat the evil again and that all conflicts are solved in the end. This is the moment when the reader has to remember the fact that the book is not a novel but a play!
Hopefully the special effects and the on stage acting will make the plot more realistic and believable. Certainly the emotions and the action will come through to the audience in a completely different way. You could say: A novel is meant to be read and a play script is only meant as a base for the play on stage… Usually
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not a typical play script, and I would argue that it is actually meant to be read and anyone who is familiar with typical scripts would agree. And there are many hints that show it. First of all the book is a hardcover which makes it impossible to use it for actual acting exercises. And opening the book shows it even more: The stage directions are useless for actors; they are more like a narrating voice. And the little extra for the hardcore Potter heads was the fact that every even unimportant pupil at the school had a first and a last name which showed the relation to the parents who were at Hogwarts at the same time as Harry and his friends.
Despite all critique it seems like most of the fans are happy to have a new piece out of their favorite wizard world, even if it is just to talk about how bad it is and how much better the original novels were. And therefore its meaning is fulfilled, it brings back the Hogwarts feeling and the love for Harry, Ron and Hermione and some might even include Albus and Scorpius into the circle of the Potter heroes. And if we are honest, now we are all looking forward to seeing the play, whether it is the original in London or a movie of it that will surely be produced in a couple of years.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is published by Little, Brown in 2016
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