Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Presents an Older, Troubled Harry

For Albus Severus Potter, life was always full of expectations he could’t meet. With an original story by J.K Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two are the 8th entries in the main line of Potter books. While this new addition is technically a script book, the storytelling is just as compelling as the previous novels.

At its core, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a story about a father’s love. Although time travel, the return of Lord Voldemort, and the guilt he carries from the death of Cedric Diggory drive the action, Harry’s inability to connect with his son, Albus, sends them both on a magical journey through time and space to save the planet– and ultimately, each other.

Cursed Child was released worldwide on July 31, 2016, along with the premiere of the play’s opening performance at the Palace Theatre in London. While the play has gotten off to a great start, boasting strong word of mouth reviews and sold out performances, some Potter fans are skeptical about the script book’s dramatic departure from structure. Thankfully, Jack Thorne effortlessly weaves themes of loss and guilt , maintaining the familiar, magical feel of Rowling’s books.

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Anyone familiar with the Potter universe will feel right at home, with Ron, Hermione, and even Malfoy being heavily featured in the script. Most of the relationships are fully realized and align properly with what fans expect. The major change is that all of these characters now have children of their own. Malfoy’s son, Scorpius, is by far the most interesting of the new kids. Rumors of him being the son of Lord Voldemort have swirled around him since birth, but once his parentage is revealed, I couldn’t help but wish that some of the other characters were more fleshed out. It would have been nice to learn more about Harry’s other children, James and Lily Potter. They serve little purpose other than being the namesakes of Harry’s deceased Parents. The decision to make Albus an only child would have added an additional layer to his character, and probably would have made the pressures of being the famous Harry Potter’s only son more potent.

Harry’s father figure, Albus Dumbledore, takes a somewhat incorporeal turn as a talking photograph. I always found the conversations between the two to be strikingly profound, especially when Dumbledore says, “We cannot protect the young from harm. Pain must and will come.” Early on, Draco Malfoy makes an appearance as an ally to the Potter gang– his awkward relationship to his son, mirroring that of Harry and Albus. This new development adds a refreshing dimension to the former enemies, granting them a nice touch of camaraderie.

The script is littered with dream sequences that add context to Harry’s unease about the threat of Lord Voldemort’s return. Most were a nice addition, but some felt tacked on in an attempt to provide further clarity to Harry’s origin. How many more times do we need to see or read about the death of Harry’s parents at the hands of Voldemort? By act four we discover just who the sly Delphini is, and why she took such an interest in accompanying Albus and Scorpius through time as they try and prevent the death of Cedric. The twists and turns in the last act of the script genuinely had my jaw on the floor, and consistently kept me on my toes.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a wonderful romp through the wizarding world after nearly ten years. While the time travel aspect of the script may not be the most original, it adds an urgency to the actions of our heroes and a weight to their decisions. The script format is different, but still maintains the excitement the franchise is known for. For those that feel Cursed Child doesn’t quite fit the Potter universe, remember that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a play– a script book. There’s no doubt in my mind that seeing the staged version, directed by John Tiffany, would far outshine reading the script, but that’s not a bad thing. Cursed Child is an enjoyable read– one that feels like a great bookend to Harry Potter’s story.

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