Playing Harry Potter
Let‘s be honest, you‘ve never believed that the adventures of Harry Potter would end with his seventh book. The franchise so powerful can‘t be drawn to a full stop so easily once and for all. Well, even Alexandre Duma made his musketeers come back. And though the parallel is rather inappropriate, Harry Potter also returns almost twenty years after in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
It took long nine years after the grand finale in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows to revive the globally beloved character, even though he‘s no more a child and even not a young fellow. And it‘s not the only unusual thing about the comeback.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not a novel. It‘s a special rehearsal edition script only based on an original story by famous J.K. Rowling. Hence we see two additional names on the book cover of John Tiffany and Jack Thorne: a director and a playwright who adapted this story for a staged performance now playing in the Palace Theatre in London’s West End.
All speculations about the chosen genre of the story left aside, there‘s an obvious advantage for the reader – 330 pages of the script might be gobbled up in one sitting whereas the novel would require several long reading nights. One, two, three and the good triumphs again!
Though there’s another certain peculiarity reading a script, if you are a drama person or enjoy being an actor at least inside your cozy room. The script gives you an opportunity to become Harry Potter, Hermione or even Draco Malfoy, if you decide to make a performance and read the script out loud. Actually you can read it within a group and take turns playing roles. Might even help to engage your technology distracted modern kids to go back to their reading skills.
J.K. Rowling’s hand definitely directs the plot. Development of the story is full of unexpected twists and magic tricks in an old Harry Porter style. It starts at King’s Cross station and a well-known platform nine and three-quarters where a thirty-seven year old Harry Potter sees off his two sons James and Albus. It’s the first time Albus is going to hop on the Hogwarts Express. And the only thing he is worried about is that he might be put in Slytherin.
On the train Albus meets Scorpius, a son of Draco Malfoy, and immediately the boys become best friends and both end up in the hated Slytherin. However, considering the previous Harry - Draco relationship, this friendship is more than unwelcome by both Potter and Malfoy families. Grown up without a parental love, Harry is too protective and too concerned, so subsequently instead of getting closer a father and a son move away from each other.
The real trouble begins when Albus overhears Cedric Diggory’s (remember a nice fellow from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire who competed with Harry at the Triwizard Tournament and was killed as a collateral damage under Voldmort‘s will?) father begging Harry to return his son back by using a recently confiscated time turner. When Harry refuses, Albus decides to change the past himself. But how can you change the past without altering the future?
The whole going back thing is a trick already exploited in a number of books and movies: Back to the Future and The Butterfly Effect coming first into mind. At first it is almost disappointing, as there’s no novelty in terms of unpredictability and a feeling of déjà vu lingers before the eyes. However, this has allowed filling in some story gaps, which J.K. Rowling left uncovered in the previous novels or thought of the details much later than their publication. So taking advantage of this opportunity the trio of the authors showcases the scenes of Harry’s past or manipulates a “what if” conception with Voldemort still alive and the world plunged into darkness and despair.
The uniting theme of almighty friendship stands out in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, as in the rest of his seven books. There’s a friendship between Albus and Scorpius, the old good battle-tested friendship of Harry, Hermione and Ron and a rather unexpected newly born friendship between Harry and Draco. There’s also a germ of just seeded friendship between Scorpius and Rose, a daughter of Hermione and Albus’ cousin, whose initial hostility towards the boy just proves the old stereotype of foes into friends.
The climax of the story doesn’t comprise the same complexity and engagement as we’ve been used to. It doesn’t reach the highest heights and ends up so simply and with no big drama. If you expect a new encounter between Harry and Voldemort, perhaps this script is meant to teach you that the best victory is reached without a battle. Though who knows, maybe it’s just a warm-up before an upcoming storm.