Thursday, August 4, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne - Review

The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later.

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must 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.

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This is a hard one. One, because it's not a novel, it's a play. Two, because it's Harry Potter - beloved, crazy-fandomed, loved-by-most-of-the-world Harry Potter. And three, because it's a play about Harry Potter. But I'm going to try so here it goes.

I can already see why some readers won't like this. It. Is. Not. Like. The books. Looking at it in comparison to the novels, the story is rushed, some key characters and points are left out, and Albus appears to be grossly underdeveloped.


I think it does a great job emulating and expanding on the stories - it reimagines who Harry and Draco (whose character becomes so important towards the end of the original series) could have been. Really, it explores what could have happened if Harry was sorted into Slytherin. What if Harry allowed his anger and his hurt to rule his judgements and relationships? What if Draco didn't bend to the pressure of his power hungry, cowardly father? How do the choices we make, both internal and external, effect everything and everyone around us?

I think the Cursed Child does a great job in telling a completely different kind of story with the same message. Both Harry and Albus feel alone and misunderstood. Albus is flawed and makes a crap-ton of (really big) mistakes. He's prideful and reckless and doesn't think things through. He's angry. But he's also young, and learning. He doesn't judge people by their legacy (like Scorpius), since he can't figure out how to grapple with his own, much like Harry doesn't judge Ron for being from a meager family. He gives in to the darker side of his nature because everyone expects him to be good, while Scorpius is the opposite, because everyone expects him to be bad. Lily's love was a very particularly kind of sacrificial love, and both Albus and Harry have to learn that there are different ways to express themselves. Growing up is hard, and so is parenting, and the world often isn't fair.

The play itself is a wild ride. No spoilers, but the way the plot moves is kind of hard to understand when you read versus when you watch (I'm assuming). The writing is pretty good, though it didn't seem particularly original to me, and the way the characters plunk along is similar to the way Harry, Ron, and Hermione survived, but if Hermione basically wasn't there and Harry and Ron were stumbling about trying not to die.

The reason why I didn't walk away being like "awww man, really??" are Albus and Scorpius. They are so perfectly depicted as these two boys who feel alone and suffer from this extreme pressure of their parents' legacies. They are both great depictions of complicated kids grappling with who they are, who society things they should be, and who they want to be. I think it brings up great conversations on the lasting effects of trauma, dealing with depression, and trying to find and create your own unique identity, at any age.

If you are even a little curious, I suggest reading it. As a play, it goes by quickly, and as long as you go in knowing it's not going to be the 8th BOOK, but rather secondary exploration of Harry's legacy, I think it's a story worth reading if you are a fan.

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Happy Reading!


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