Harry Potter, the story of J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World and the boy who lived, began nearly 20 years ago with the publication of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” and now—after six sequel novels, eight movie adaptations and the spin-off movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” planned for release in November of this year—the story continues with the eighth installment of Harry’s journey, this time on an all new platform. No, not platform nine and three-quarters; I’m talking about the platform of a live action stage play.
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” a new play by Jack Thorne based on the original new story by J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany, is currently running as a West End production in London, selling out night after night as Harry Potter fans from all over the world travel to England for an opportunity to see their beloved characters of literature come to life before their eyes.
However, for those of us who do not have the means to make it to London, a special rehearsal edition of the written script was published in the United Sates this year on July 31. The hardback script is advertised as “the eighth story, nineteen years later,” and it is exactly that. “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” picks up right where Rowling’s final Potter novel, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” left off.
At Kings Cross, Harry and Jenny are seeing their children onto the Hogwarts Express for another magical year at the school of witchcraft and wizardry. This will be the first year for the couple’s youngest son, Albus Severus Potter, and he is still a bit nervous.
Albus asks his father, “What if I’m put in Slytherin?”
Harry replies, “And what would be wrong with that?”
As it turns out, Albus is indeed sorted into the Slytherin house, and he comes to find out that there is something wrong with being the only Potter ever to be sorted into Slytherin. Albus becomes an outcast whose only friend is Scorpius, the son of Harry’s childhood enemy, Draco Malfoy.
The story picks up when one day Albus and Scorpius go too far and jeopardize the very existence of the world as they know it. Albus decides it is a good idea to steal the only remaining time-turner from the Ministry of Magic and go back in time to save Cedric Diggory (who was murdered during You Know Who’s return to power in the fourth novel).
Why, out of all the people who were killed throughout the series, does Albus decide Cedric deserves to be brought back? The answer to that is left vague and shows just how stupid Albus is.
As Hermione once said, “Bad things happen to wizards who meddle with time.” And sure enough, “bad things” ensue, including the reappearance of the Dark Lord.
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” reads sort of like fanfiction. The script seems too simple and dumbed down to be a Harry Potter tale. The plot is a boring and overused time-travel adventure, and I had trouble believing it came from the mind of J.K. Rowling.
No doubt, the play would be fantastic to see in a theater, and if I ever get the chance to go to London, I will be first in line for the play. The fact of the matter is this story was never meant to be read; it was meant to be experienced. As a script, “Cursed Child” just doesn’t measure up to the Harry Potter standard.