First of all, allow me to say as a fellow ’80s child (alongside Harry who is of course a little under two years older than me by this point) that I appreciate this play/writing being created just as much as any ’90s child would. I read through the first seven novels and always had a blast exploring the mystical world that J.K Rowling crafted. I watched all eight films and was mildly surprised that each found its way to the silver screen in such an amusing and enjoyable way. Sure, things always differ between film and book and although I would’ve loved them to be exact replicas, I do understand why they could not be at all times.
Therefore, upon hearing that not only would there be a two-part theatrical production but a released text to accompany it in semi-book form, I was as enthused as anyone would be. And then of course there is the matter of the film adaptation of ‘Fantastic Beasts’ coming shortly as well. Suffice it to say, the world cannot have enough of Harry Potter- whether you condemn the producers for selling their souls and continuing to milk the brand or not is beyond the point.
To be clear, this particular review is for the text of ‘Cursed Child Part 1 and 2’ not the theatrical release. As much as I applaud them for taking leaps and bounds theatrically to shake things up and make them interesting, I’ve always preferred text and I like to envision the characters the same as I always have in my mind as well. I’ll do my best to hit the highlights of the three-hundred odd pages or so without spoiling anything, as if you all probably haven’t had things spoiled enough for you by this point.
‘Cursed Child’ should be considered the eighth base text in the Potter saga although it is as much Harry’s story as it is that of his youngest son Albus Severus Potter’s (alongside Scorpius Malfoy, perhaps the most darling character Rowling has written yet). Picking up roughly where the epilogue of book seven (Deathly Hallows) leaves us, nineteen or so years after the Battle of Hogwarts and all that was thenceforth ended in the wizarding world (see: Moldy Voldy and several lovable characters), ‘Cursed Child’ quickly proves that it isn’t going to stay quietly in the Potter mold. Within about fifty pages, three or four years pass at Hogwarts and an entirely different story begins to take shape. Things have never been perfect in Harry’s world and Rowling (alongside of course Jack Thorne and John Tiffany) makes sure to inject just the right, believable amount of familial drama and flawed characters into the mix as well.
I enjoyed the believable evolution and portrayal of familiar characters as well as the addition of new ones to make the story have its own, new sense of purpose and direction and life. The world may or may not be a better place and characters see their flaws and notice how things in the past may come back to haunt them and this is very much a large and intricately portrayed part of the story. I’ll not spoil any key plot-specific elements but I will most definitely say that time plays a large role in the story- not just in terms of establishing the future but reconciling with past actions as well. Rowling definitely goes the classic route and tugs on the heartstrings by making callbacks to previous notable moments in Harry’s life, exceptionally so in roughly the last fifty pages or so of the text.
I enjoyed seeing the overall arching storylines that traced characters’ paths from book seven until ‘Cursed Child’ and I also enjoyed how things ended. I say ended merely because the two-part theatrical production definitely serves as a fitting end for Harry’s story, although it could very well turn into the beginning of his son’s generation of characters’ story. I was satisfied with the end of Harry’s seven years at Hogwarts for better or worse and I’m just as satisfied by the end of ‘Cursed Child’ overall. It both trod old and familiar territory and spiced things up a little bit with some changes to the nostalgic formula and teases of darker things to come hither and thither. I’m excited to see where the world continues to go- whether in terms of films or other productions, and that will never change. The groundwork has been laid for delving into other realms of production and Rowling has proved that she can craft intricate and thought-provoking stories both with eight-hundred page tomes and three-hundred page manuscripts.