With a past that refuses to stay where it belongs. A struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was a two-plus year journey. But its origin goes much further. Approximately ten years after the publication of the last Harry Potter novel, circa 2002, J.K. Rowling began to especially consider the epilogue of that book; however, as she’s said in countless interviews, The Boy That Lived is never far from her mind. Said epilogue shows Harry, Herimone and Ron, nineteen years after the monumental events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.They’re well established in their respective careers; they’ve even managed to maintain their former tight-knit friendships. Though according to a 2016 interview with The Guardian, Albus Severus was clearly her primary focus.
The play, based on a story written by Rowling and Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany, doesn’t revolve completely around present day Harry Potter, or solely about the misadventures of boyhood pals, Scorpius Malfoy (my favorite new character) and Albus. It isn’t even centered around the infamous Lord Voldemort. Rather, these playwright’s crafted a story about all of those things, and much more. And it’s absolutely stunning. Brilliant.
The heart of this two-part narrative, though, is the strained relationship between Harry and Albus. Not just strained, but broken. Going into this, I didn’t know what to expect. I always try to have zero preconceived notions. The last thing I expected was to feel anything for the characters (despite my adoration for them, gleaned through the seven previous books,) and I think that’s because of the medium. Somehow, I’d unfairly equated script reading with an inferior experience, as if the very soul of them would be lacking. I don’t believe this mentality is uncommon, either. After all, with a full-length novel, the author is free to delve deeply into the essence of her/his characters—and their unique world—and the reader shares that freedom. You’re able to revel alongside them. It doesn’t get much better than that, does it? Needless to say, I was heartbroken by the unspoken state of their relationship.
Being in the Harry Potter universe, one expects plenty of faith, hope, and of course, magic. They fully deliver all three. Personally, much of the fun wasn’t in the special effects described in the three hundred and ten pages; it was the wholly uniqueness of seeing, living, and inhaling this story in a vastly different light.
In other words, I was engrossed. So much, in fact, that I’d forget and periodically have to remind myself that I wasn’t reading a novel; that I was an active participant of every set direction, action, dialogue (which was exemplarly,) that the writer’s orchestrated in the simplist of terms, the leanest of words.
But I felt significant disconnect, too. Throughout the story, a very familiar—and cliched—literary trope was utilized, though to their benefit, it was effective and executed well, without clumsiness of any kind. Literally every step was systematic. Returning to my point, I understand the logistics of it, and earnestly, given the circumstances, there’s probably no alternative, but we’ve seen it all before. I wanted something different, something new. Given the source, creating a unique solution wouldn’t be beyond Rowling’s ability.
And maybe that’s the point, I kept thinking, mulling the facts again and again. I believe it’s the culmination of every fantastical and mundane element of The Cursed Child which made it iconic and special in its own right. It’s often heartwarming and melancholy, exhibiting greatness and bravery and beauty. It’s these qualities, and so much more, which render it unique.