Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is a script written by Jack Thorne. A script that captures London West End’s newest, most hyped play of Summer 2016, propelling fans 19 years into Harry’s life after Deathly Hallows.
The five-star rated play is like a frat party. Only Potterheads (and wannabes) who managed to wrangle tickets online nearly a year ago, (and succeeded in arranging travel to London), were invited to witness the magic. Performances from May 2017 onwards have recently gone on sale (one of the longest advances currently in the West End), no doubt timed cleverly to fall in the wake of the script’s release. This has rekindled hopes in the hearts of many but the play still remains within the domain of a niche crowd.
Someone somewhere along the lines reflected on how lucrative unfair this was. They decided to translate the play from stage to page, reaping more benefits, allowing more people to experience the magic. Come 31st July 2016, Potterheads all over the world showed up at their respective local bookstores for the launch of the 8th story, eager to delve back into their favourite fantasy world. The books flew off the shelves like magic. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child became the fastest-selling UK book of the decade.
I delayed reading the script straight away for two reasons:
1) I am a lucky, lucky girl who has invites to Palace Theatre in October. Given the rave reviews, and how hard I fought to get the tickets, it seemed worthwhile to wait.
2) Starting a book on Sunday night made me nervous. I am no longer the carefree teenager I was nearly nine years ago, when the last book was released. I still remember queuing inside a bookstore in Uttara early in the morning, eager for my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It would be more than a year before I walked through King’s Cross Station in numb disbelief, pinching myself to confirm that indeed, I had made it to Harry’s land.
Despite my better judgement advising me to wait for the play, or at least the weekend, I struggled to resist the charm of Cursed Child. I tried distracting myself with something else on Monday night, a novel that I have been trying to finish since December 2015. Yet by Tuesday night I had finally finished the novel and found myself immersed in the Cursed Child past my bedtime. I took the script along with me to work, not even buying coffee on my commute lest it disturbed my ability to read as I climbed buses and trains with my nose buried in the book.
Fast forward to Wednesday afternoon and I am desperate to clock out of work and resume reading. I am going to finish it by tonight, I know. It reads really fast as well, because, again, it’s a script.
By 9 pm, I am done. As I shut it close and place it on the coffee table, Husband catches the conflicted emotion on my face. ‘You didn’t like it, huh?’
I hedged. It was not a straightforward answer. I have been racing with the story and my mind was still jogging. If you ever harboured a curiosity about how it feels to see into a Pensieve, reading Cursed Child will probably give you a good idea. The story jumps back and forth between time and memories, exploring known and unknown characters in a whirlwind adventure. We get to revisit some crucial points in Harry’s life – the night of his parents’ death at Godric’s Hollow and glimpses of the epic Triwizard Tournament. We get to reunite with characters we have bidden tearful goodbyes to. That in itself makes Cursed Child a winner for me. I have spent 9 tormented years reworking my emotions towards the Boy Who Loved. Finding Snape alive, albeit in a parallel universe in another time, was like receiving some twisted form of salvation from my atonement. Dumbledore can be seen flitting between his portraits and Harry’s agony over losing him appears to be fresh and raw even after all these years. The Boy Who Lived is still an orphan despite having a loving wife and three kids.
Revisiting Rowling’s magical world after such a long reprieve was always going to be a stirring ride. It ensured the book/script was a page turner. I was moved to tears on more than one occasion and that’s a testament to the power of the story told by the Cursed Child.
Cursed Child is emotionally riveting, and intense. It succeeds in stroking our deeply rooted love for Harry by bringing him and his world back after a decade long interval. But perhaps that’s where the inevitable comparison with Rowling’s ingeniously detailed books comes to an end. The story merely scratches the surface of Harry’s extraordinary magical world, creating scenes in a previously well established universe without adding or expanding it much. A book would have held the story so much better. But Cursed Child, again, is a script.
While I was very grateful to be able to see beyond an epilogue that was promised to be the end-all, there is no ignoring the fact that the eight story left much to be desired. New characters were not given the chance or space to grow in our minds, with the surprising exception of Scorpius Malfoy, Draco Malfoy’s son. Despite the loopholes and time lapses in the script, his character grows and wows, managing to embed in the reader’s mind by the time the Cursed Child rollercoaster ride is over.
Fans have divided like never before over the merit of the book. This is a story that was written to be performed. Some have scorned it as fan fiction. Others have cried in delight for being reunited with Harry, Ron and Hermione, even though the story didn’t quite resonate as we had hoped it would. Many of us have grown up with these characters and our connection ran deeper than the plot of Cursed Child.
So was it wise to release the script? For me, it was, because if there is a new Harry story being promoted by Rowling, albeit it written by a different author in limited capacity, every fan deserves to hear/see/read it. But a play transfigured as a book can only do so much without the support of clever visual effects and actors’ charisma. Does the play bring justice to the 8th story, and make it something more than the script could deliver?
The answer lies within the shrouds of Palace Theatre. Two months before I find out! Stay tuned.