June 7, 2023

Gabbing Geek

Your online community for all things geeky.

Geek Lit: Harry Potter And The Cursed Child (Again)

Harry Potter returns, older and maybe wiser, in this stage play.

Ryan already reviewed this, but that never stopped me before.  Here’s a somewhat more in-depth, but still largely SPOILER-FREE (with the exception of some early stuff), review of the new play that is being presented as the eighth Harry Potter book.


Based on an original story by J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tells the story of Harry, now around forty, and his middle child, Albus Potter.  The two don’t get along, and for very similar reasons.  Harry is feeling the burden, even after all this time, of being Harry Potter while Albus has to feel the burden of being Harry Potter’s son.  And though Albus goes to Hogwarts, he doesn’t seem to have much luck or success performing magic.

Now, it could be pointed out that this book is a script for a play.  Aside from dialogue, there isn’t much here, and Rowling herself didn’t necessarily write the script.  She had some co-authors in the form of John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, and Thorne appears to be the one who adapted the script from whatever work Rowling did.  As such, this is set in Rowling’s world, resurrects many of Rowlings most popular characters and concepts, but as I read it, I couldn’t help feel like something was missing.

The answer, of course, is this is a play and its meant to be performed more than read.  With a good cast, I am sure this works much better than it does on the page.  As it is, it’s just the dialogue, and Rowling’s place and character descriptions are absent.  Yes, most of the characters would be known to readers who probably don’t need to be reminded what Ron looks like, but that didn’t make this for better reading material.  I’ve recommended the Harry Potter books in the past, and there’s nothing necessarily wrong with Cursed Child aside of a general feeling as I read that I was missing something.  Much of what is here is a series of very short scenes that tell the story of the Cursed Child, and truth be told, I’m not even sure which of the various new characters on display here actually is the Cursed Child.

And as a further digression…Rowling has spent a lot of time since the last book came out telling people what happened next to various characters, or stuff about characters she never revealed in the novels themselves, and, well, on a certain level that doesn’t work.  Author’s intent doesn’t really matter in the world of literature.  Something like Dumbledore’s sexual orientation, well, that was hinted at, but all the “and then this happened” stuff…if Rowling wanted that to happen, she needed to include it in a book.  Cursed Child does a little of that, so that’s all for the good.

But one thing Cursed Child does very well is act as a redemption story for House Slytherin.  Long left as just the House of the Bad Kids to Gryffindor’s heroic figures, Cursed Child gives Draco Malfoy a speech or two discussing his own miserable childhood and what he really wanted out of life that go a long way towards humanizing him, while Draco’s son Scorpius (seriously, don’t give your kid a supervillain name, Draco) is a rather kind lad who befriends an equally lonely Albus Potter.  And since Rowling found a way to include many of her most beloved characters, there are some bits with another heroic Slytherin, Severus Snape, where he easily gets all the best lines in the play.  This focus does mean characters like Hermione and (especially) Ron are pushed more off to the side, but the work follows the general theme of Rowling’s world where people will do right by their children and living up to a legacy can be very hard work.

But the whole fact this was a play and read as such leads me to be a little less enthusiastic about it than I otherwise would be.  Eight out of ten Trolley Witch reveals.

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