“Cursed Child” is a perfect addition to the timeless series
It’s been nine years since “Harry Potter” last hit the bookshelves. Enthusiastic fans always clamored for a book eight, and last night, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne definitely delivered.
The play script format definitely removes the attention to detail from the original books, but that doesn’t stop it from infusing the same magical quality into each word.
Stage directions like “And time stops. And then it turns over, thinks a bit, and beginnings spooling backwards, slow at first … And then it speeds up,” are wonderfully imaginative — the authors give time life, as if it’s a character of its own, and it is a vital one to the plot.
We first saw time travel in “The Prisoner of Azkaban,” but “Cursed Child” takes it to new heights, by going over 20 years back to the events of the original series, setting the play up for a large amount of nostalgia.
In recent years, we’ve seen many reboots that try to pay homage to their original versions, but often go too far, making nostalgia their only purpose.
“Cursed Child,” however, does nostalgia well. The beginning of the book starts with the epilogue, and even just reading the same words Harry says to his son, Albus Severus Potter in the new script tugs at the hearts of original fans.
Time travel provides the opportunity for the audience to see iconic events from the original series from a new vantage point, eliciting unique emotions that are range from somber to jubilant.
Harry’s dreams were always a large part of the original books, and that doesn’t change in “Cursed Child.” It uses scenes from the seven books as a vehicle to move the plot along, making the nostalgia there for a purpose, rather than just for the sake of nostalgia.
While the play was always marketed as Albus’s story, Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Harry’s original childhood enemy Draco Malfoy, shares the spotlight just as much, or maybe even takes it more than Albus does.
Both children are cast as outsiders in the play, and it makes them an unlikely pair of friends. This dynamic, and Scorpius’s wonderful character, shatters the overly negative view of Slytherins, and Malfoys more specifically, in a refreshing way.
The now-old generation of original characters is also featured in the play, and although this statement seems crazy, there was too much Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
“Harry Potter” has always been a book about children and their adventures, and while seeing the grown-up lives of favorite characters is great, their roles could have been downplayed more to allow Albus and Scorpius to really shine, to be more like the maternal Molly Weasley from the original books.
What makes the book great is really the writing. Though they are few, the stage directions provide so much detail and emotion — characters are “thoroughly discombobulated” or in “disbelieving desperation,” evoking colorful scenes with so few words.
The dialogue works perfectly as well — even when there are no stage directions telling you how the characters feel, the tone of each word is vividly displayed, giving each character great depth and making each relationship in the script thoroughly complex.
Whenever there’s an addition to a perfect story like “Harry Potter,” there’s always the worry that if it isn’t good, if it isn’t impeccable, it’ll mar the original sacred beauty of the books.
“Cursed Child” rises above those worries. The flow of the book seems to fit so naturally with the original series, as if Rowling always planned to write the eighth book. With stellar writing and a magical plot, “Cursed Child” lives up to, and exceeds, all expectations.