Six years ago, a worldwide phenomenon and fine piece of timeless fantasy ended with the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2010). As for the books, it’s been nearly 10 years since JK Rowling unleashed the grand finale to what is arguably the most beloved series of all time. Millions of shed tears, as this series that had meant so much to us growing up had finally come to an end. Little did we know that just a few years later JK Rowling, along with John Tiffany (Once stage production) and Jack Thorne (Let the Right One In stage production), would bring us back to the wizarding world with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, written by Jack Thorne.
Starting 19 years after the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, The Cursed Child starts just before the epilogue Rowling wrote in her final book, with Harry bidding farewell to his two children as they board the Hogwarts Express. Albus Severus Potter, the cursed child of this story, is a first year at Hogwarts and is worried about getting sorted into Slytherin, making life long friends, and the hardships that come with being the child of the famous Harry Potter. It doesn’t help that his older brother, James, keeps poking fun at the idea of him being sorted into Slytherin. Rose Granger-Weasley, the daughter of – you guessed it – Ron and Hermione, is close friends with Albus and also a first year. As they attempt to make their life long friends on the train, as their parents did with each other, they run into a young boy by the name of Scorpius Malfoy. Rose doesn’t want to make friends with him, the son of Draco and Astoria Malfoy, but Albus adores him at their first meeting and the two become best friends. As Albus and Scorpius grow up together, they try to learn how to be their own selves, break out of House stereotypes, and deal with their own rocky parental issues. Arguably, Scorpius is just as much of a cursed child as Albus is: they are both dealing with being compared to their parents, and while Albus is picked on for being the first Potter in Slytherin, Scorpius is picked on for coming from a family with a history of Death Eaters – as well as rumors of him being Voldemort’s son.
The Cursed Child is an absolutely wonderful story. It’s full of fun and magic, dark times and lighthearted lovely moments, but unfortunately it quite often feels like fan fiction. Clearly Thorne and Tiffany love the source material, but it very much reads like a story that’s written by fans who just want to revisit their favorite moments and characters of the series. The stories and arcs of Albus and Scorpius are wonderfully rich; they both learn a lot about themselves and grow throughout the play. There’s more than a few incredibly tender moments between them and their fathers, which makes this play feel very much like a father/son story. There’s also a moment near the end that almost made me drop the book and start sobbing. So don’t get me wrong, it’s a great tale that’s both incredibly emotional and well written. Though it feel like an amalgamation of the writers’ favorite moments and ideas from the original Harry Potter series patched together to create a brand new story.
The best thing about The Cursed Child has to be how well the original characters were portrayed. We all look back at the character of Harry Potter and fondly remember him as the selfless, great, powerful, never faulting wizard. In this, however, we are reminded how blind we are as we see all of Harry’s flaws as he tries and often fails at parenting Albus. This happens with almost all of the characters. Thorne did a phenomenal job at bringing these beloved characters back and showing us sides that we have forgotten. Professor McGonagall and Harry remind us that Dumbledore wasn’t perfect, we see another more heroic side of some of the darker characters, and not to mention how much Draco Malfoy has changed. He still isn’t over what happened all those years ago and he still has the Death Eater symbol hanging over the family name, but he lives with pride and courage, albeit a very quiet pride. It’s wonderful to see how these characters have grown – and at times stayed the exact same 0 over the years since they were in their children’s shoes and robes back at Hogwarts. I’d also like to praise Thorne’s writing in the stage directions. There are so many funny and witty moments, as well as very rich ones, that express the wonder that is the wizarding world.
All in all, as a die hard Harry Potter fan, this is a very welcome addition to this universe. It has its faults: sometimes it feels incredibly cheesy and forced, especially when characters we know the writers loved seem to be thrown in for nostalgic cameos (looking at you Moaning Myrtle). That being said, it’s also very deep and moving, exuding a rainbow of moments ranging from the incredibly intense to light and fun. The Curse Child is a story of fathers and sons, learning how to be comfortable in your own skin, learning how to overcome obstacles that people face on a daily basis (masked by magical and fantastic situations, of course), and in the end, a story about friendship. It presents all of the things JK Rowling taught us through her books, and that’s all this play needed to be.