Ah, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. You poor thing. You are the book everyone anticipated, only to be disappointed when they realized you were a stage play. Personally, I spent a good portion of my growing up on stage. I am very familiar with how to read a play, why you do readings, and all that. This means Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was a marvel for me; a welcome change of pace. The experience of reading this book brought two childhood* favorites crashing together: Stage plays and Harry Potter.
*I was 13 when the first book came out in the US, and I read it the same year it was released. I was one of those kids.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tells the story of Albus Severus Potter as he begins his Hogwarts journey. This stage play picks up literally where the books left off, in fact. Albus and Harry have had a rocky time of it lately, but that’s not all. Albus’s best friend is none other than Scorpius Malfoy… who, shockingly, has also been having some troubles at home. As these boys grow up, they decide to take things into their own hands and challenge some decisions their fathers have made. Only, as you can imagine, things do not go as planned.
Those we love never truly leave us, Harry. There are things that death cannot touch.
Now, as you might have noticed if you read other reviews, reading a stage play is very different experience from reading a novel. In novels you have world building and slow character development, inner monologue and, well, appropriate pacing for a novel. In a stage play the world doesn’t work the same. You have two and a half hours to tell a full story arc, your world building is mostly done through scenery and lighting, inner monologue rarely exists, and character development has to happen quickly. But on the stage you have human actors. You have imagery to control and define to tell your story. It’s a different experience entirely.
If you come to this play expecting the next HP book, you will be sadly let down. While this is a very fast paced story, our authors assume you are already familiar with the Potter’s world. Limited world building happens through description or character lines. Same with existing character development. Hermione is Hermione (though, now Minister of Magic), Ron is Ron (though now running Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes), etc. But our new characters get a chance to shine.
The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.
Albus is certainly both Harry’s foil and a mini-me. He is selfish, angsty, and demanding. He is everything his father was as a student at Hogwarts, and yet nothing like him at all. This has been a challenge for Harry who is struggling with the scars of being “the chosen one” even still, but now he is the Head of Magical Law Enforcement and doesn’t feel like a good father. As an adult now, I can relate a lot to Harry– he has certainly grown up with me.
Despite all that, my favorite character is certainly Scorpius. Here ends my extrapolation, because Spoilers.
As a live show, this must be REMARKABLE. I can barely imagine how they will pull off all the scene changes and special effects. There is so much magic involved; how can they even do it?! It’s important to know that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is actually in two parts. That’s right– if you want to see the whole show, you need to go to the theatre two nights in a row. Like Wagner’s The Ring Cycle. This is serious theatre. But that’s the only way to fit so much into a stage production.
In every shining moment of happiness is that drop of poison: the knowledge that pain will come again. Be honest to those you love, show your pain. To suffer is as human as to breathe.
Honestly, I think this is probably a fantastic show. When analyzing theatre you must consider so many aspects: physical and scenic environments, character appearances, spoke text and action, structure, metaphors, the playwright’s intentions, choices, thought, audience interaction… I could go on and on. I hope that at some point they set up a location (or 10) in America where they will perform. I would love to see this live!
If this book does nothing but inspires you to read your first stage play, it’s worth it as far as I’m concerned. Don’t expect a new Harry Potter book, but expect a touching story about father/child issues set with our favorite characters in our favorite world.
Disclaimer: All photos are property of J.K Rowling and Warner Bros Entertainment