It arrived a week ago. The Cursed Child, the book with its magical properties. The one that was much awaited, about the boy who lived and the man who now struggles with that label. We got home from two hours of allergy testing, milk shakes and comic book shopping and watched it lie in my hands for a moment, its golden dust jacket glinting, beckoning, as three of us argued over who got first dibs.
Turns out I did. As the original Potterhead in the house, I seem to have a say thank goodness. I also read faster than my girls.
I’m afraid I shall not give a single secret away. Somethings aren’t secret and those shall be given freely.
Expectations were that a play with a fairly epic script about Harry’s adult life, where we find our beloved characters raising children who attend Hogwarts, while dealing with post battle scars would not be a replacement for another magical journey. Rowling’s trademark plot lines, solid well -humored storytelling, flawed yet strong characters infused with light and dark might well remain within the sacred pages of her brilliant books. I didn’t want this to be book eight. I tried not to treat it as such.
Interestingly enough, there are some peculiarities in the plot which makes the play authentic. I don’t suppose you could possibly write a script about a return to the battle scene or the physical return of the Dark Lord, without tainting a legacy of seven books that embodies the many faces of humanity, misery and freedom, which, let’s face it, is an irreplaceable and indefinable quality. Those magically charged words gave new meaning to sacrifice, while simultaneously defining character and explaining the need for those gut wrenching goodbyes with a message that light eventually prevails over dark. That final cry of the disarming ‘Expelliarmus’ which was our closure, our goodbye, must then remain as such.
However, to those of us who need to know that Harry’s life has continued purposefully, after the merest glimpse of who he becomes at the end of Deathly Hallows Part II, that Hermione’s brilliant mind is still sharp, oh and that Ron can, and will at any given moment, supply us with some of his much-needed ease, and laid back humor, because well, the world needs it. This play then seems to have elements of everything that reminds us of why we are Potterheads. As new and old characters deal with a very realistic threat, a twist that is the slightest bit alarming reveals itself, a good thing because there are those moments in the play that bring back nuances of each of the Potter books, familiar, comforting and well, um, some things I could frankly have done without. But it is Rowling and we dutifully voiced our protests about some of the other story lines too.
I most liked meeting Scorpius, Malfoy’s son. He is awkward in his body because of his legacy and naturally so. I really like how he evolves. Albus on the other hand is everything I expect him to be character wise. He has his father’s need to right wrongs and all the bravado it takes. He carries an immense burden by virtue of being Harry’s child although James remains unburdened by it all. His youthful exuberance and anger aren’t justified clearly which is a bit disappointing. He makes a case, but his space and energy is different, he needed to be a bit more for me. Although I think if I watch the play, he could be the Albus I want to see.
The casting is brilliant. Anthony Boyle is perfect as Scorpius. Jamie Parker has the scar, and the glasses, even looks a little like Harry’s dad in the film version, and wears a suit to cleverly remind us that Harry is a father, dealing with very adult issues and now working for the Ministry of Magic. Poppy Miller is perfect as Ginny; modern, sleek red hair, costuming is classic and lovely, she looks like the original Ginny Weasley and the mum I would want for Albus. Sam Clemmett plays Albus and he is a Royal Shakespeare company alum, along with appearances in films we’ve already watched. You know when the cast is collectively so good and experienced, the play is going to be fantastic. Of all of them, I loved Hermione and Ron the most. Their pairing is perfect. Someday I will see this play and applaud with tears of joy.
I would have liked a mention of Lupin’s son Teddy, for in him I saw potential. There is a strong female lead, but her power is determined by who she is rather than what her capabilities are. She is also not someone I could relate to, particularly because her nature is, in my opinion, the antithesis of a Rowling character. That being said, this is a play. It’s short. Character development is therefore also brief and as layered as a script will allow. Even if its proportions are worthy of an eighth book. Harry’s struggle isn’t a secret, so to that I will say, I enjoyed the focus on his current relationships, how his past is very a part of his present, one he can’t seem to escape. For in the end, Harry, Ron and Hermione are the link to anything Potter related. I find I am very much drawn to the original characters who lend us their energy, so we move toward a relationship with the younger generation, accepting their flaws in support of who they may become.
Book Title – Harry Potter and the Curse Child (Special Rehearsal Edition Script – Parts one and two)
- Little, Brown
- Special Edition of the Official Script of the Original West End Production, Great Britain, 2016
- ISBN 978-0-7515-6535-5