I’ve written before about Harry Potter – I suppose it’s one of my go-to subjects, especially when I’m running behind on writing an article. Not to mention that 2016 has provided plenty of HP material for me to think about and use, including, of course, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
What can be said about the book? The first thing to remember, if you haven’t read the script yet, is that it is just that: a script (not a novel). This means that scenes which may in a typical novel take hundreds of pages, maybe even an entire installment in a book series, to cover are introduced and addressed in a couple pages. Events move along fast – very fast. Time travel is a major part of the play; however there is only teasingly brief time spent in any of the alternate realities. Nevertheless, as a play, there’s only so much space/time available for details. There are secondary (though I would like to learn more about them) characters mentioned merely in passing (such as Harry and Ginny’s children Lily and James Potter) or those who didn’t end up quite where, I suspect, many fans expected (Ron?). Yet there are also clever nods to minor characters which in the few paragraphs focused on them provide more insight into their character than all of the previous 7 books combined (the Trolley Witch).
There is actually much to contemplate philosophically throughout the script and for an avid HP fan fiction writer, there is certainly also much room for side stories to develop. A major focus of the play is to destigmatize house Slytherin as being the “evil” house as well as the development of the Malfoy / Potter relationship through their sons. The theme of good and evil and the power of the individual to determine their own path based on their own choices remains an important theme. Further, the inclusion of time travel as experienced by three of the play’s main characters (Scorpius Malfoy, Albus Severus Potter, and Delphi Diggory) emphasize how the world can be greatly and negatively altered when we try to change a past event – no matter the reason (I can hear Doctor Who saying something like: “I told you about fixed events! Will you ever listen!” to himself).
Overall, do I think that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was necessary or that it adds anything to the original series which I felt was missing – no. Do I feel it ruined the original series? Again no, not at all. Does this mean I am ambivalent to the play? I want very desperately to say no – that I have a strong opinion – but I think that’s just it. I’m glad I read it; I hope to see it one day when (if) the play comes to Broadway, but the overall magic that filled me as I read the original series – I didn’t exactly get this time around.