The eighth story. Nineteen years later.
The revival of the fictional phenomenon Harry Potter has been re-awakened by the play, Harry Potter and The Cursed Child, and the production of the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, much to the delight of millions of Potterheads who were unwilling to let Harry Potter die after seven books. However, for those who weren’t quick enough to purchase tickets for the Cursed Child when they were £15-£130, many will have to suffice with reading the script book, or fork out an average of £1,800 for a ticket.
The script book is a hefty two-part play that picks up where the last book left off. We see Harry and his gang as 40 year olds, with their children taking off to Hogwarts. J.K. Rowling and her co-writers Jack Thorne and John Tiffany worked tirelessly to create parallels between Albus and his father Harry, by reminding the reader of former situations ‘The Chosen One’ experienced. It’s a script full of dad jokes and flashbacks to scenes from the previous books which our young protagonists attempt to sabotage for the seemingly random cause of saving Cedric Diggory. J.K. Rowling uses Time Turners to attract the reader’s attention and invoke nostalgia by going back to the original seven books whilst within a new story with fresh characters.
“The absence of the third person narration and the descriptions so significant to the Harry Potter series makes this script feel like a rushed add-on”
Towards the middle of the script, however, there is an unshakeable feeling that the book resonates with a FanFiction rather than a J.K. Rowling book. If you’ve read some of the thousands of post Deathly Hallows FanFictions, you will see that the script seems to be what the audiences desire: a story that follows Harry’s children. They, like their parents, are up to no good, engaging with the same enemies and heroes, just in a more modern world that the fans will recognise. FanFiction reverberates homoeroticism, which the script very mildly and very implicitly touches upon between Draco and Harry’s sons, whilst reinforcing shoe-horned heterosexual childhood love that hints at a lifelong marriage in the future.
Though the plot is gripping and fast paced, the absence of the third person narration and the descriptions so significant to the Harry Potter series makes this script feel like a rushed add-on. It is almost like a post-credits scene to a film, to please audiences and make money through the avenue of theatre and script publication, rather than to explore another part of the Harry Potter world. The script is highly plot and character led, ignoring environment and description and the wider wizarding world. It leaves a lot to be desired; many fans have complained that J.K. Rowling should have given them a ‘proper’ book which would have taken her time and planning and an enormous amount of effort, rather than just a book of dialogue and some stage direction. Perhaps the thing that upset fans the most was that they anticipated a piece written solely by J.K Rowling herself rather than a collaboration piece. As although the story was a group effort, the play itself was written by Jack Thorne. In this way perhaps fans were let down by the fact that the piece didn’t match up to expectations, and they felt the piece should have been written only by her.
“The reader is constantly left on edge with abuse of time and manipulation of past events that seem irreversible”
The Cursed Child does have a very compelling plot though. The reader is constantly left on edge with abuse of time and manipulation of past events that seem irreversible. However, J.K. Rowling, as she always does, pulls out clever solutions in the end, along with plenty of sentimental heart-to-hearts and wise sayings. The threat of Voldemort and the recurrence of Harry’s scar hurting as a signifier of the Dark Lord’s awakening begs for a new villain. We get that somewhat in Dephi, but it would have been interesting to completely move away from Voldemort and his possible successors to make way for new threats in the wizarding world.
With the loss of the traditional novel narrative, the intricacies and distinguishable features of the characters are somewhat damaged. Hermione seems less intelligent and authoritative, Harry seems less like a leader, Ron loses his charisma by becoming the house-husband and Snape becomes passive and almost friendly. In JK’s attempts to create another Order of the Phoenix by having a group of middle aged witches and wizards coming together, Draco is now cured of his cowardice and pettiness. Though it was never truly in his heart to be evil, Draco becomes close to people he hated and fought against for his son Scorpius, which is an engrossing twist much like ‘The Chosen One’s’ offspring becoming a Slytherin.
“It satisfies, it entertains, it uses magic and involves some scenes and characters we didn’t want to let go of”
All in all, despite the script’s shortcomings and disappointments, the world of Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling’s insurmountable imagination is hard to critique negatively. In terms of a book to follow the Harry Potter saga, it satisfies, it entertains, it uses magic and involves some scenes and characters we didn’t want to let go of. It must have been a difficult task to create a narrative that would have pleased fans who wanted it to resonate with the last seven books and irked those who want it to be completely different. For such a much loved and highly treasured book series, there are bound to be about as many bad reviews as good for this script book.
Image Credit: Emily Geyerhosz