Thousands upon thousands of people lined up just before midnight on July 30 in bookstores across America. Excited whispers and raucous laughter filled rooms as readers of all shapes, sizes and ages waited in nostalgic glee for the midnight release of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” However, as readers received their books and consumed the words until the light of dawn, many of those whispers and laughs turned to sighs and huffs of displeasure.
“The Cursed Child” is touted as the eighth story in the Harry Potter saga and serves as the script for a play by the same title currently running at the Palace Theater in London. The script picks up where “Deathly Hallows” left off and tells the story of Albus Severus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, the sons of Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy respectively.
Rowling and co-authors Jack Thorne and John Tiffany explore the themes of time travel and what if: what if Cedric Diggory had never died? What if Voldemort had a child? What if Harry Potter had lost the battle of Hogwarts?
These all led to my own personal what ifs that I feel “Cursed Child” answers perfectly: what if a fanfiction from 2008 was uncovered and published? This what if makes me want to further explore the theme of time travel that Rowling, Thorne and Tiffany have so curiously pursued so that I can go back in time and cast a shield charm (just like our characters use) to prevent my eyes from reading it.
The writing is lackluster, and the characters are devoid of their typical charm and traits. Some have blamed this on the format, claiming that for some reason a script cannot convey emotions and detail the way prose can. However, I argue that celebrated playwrights and scholars might disagree with that. Are there any characters or plots that are more solid, celebrated and studied than those of William Shakespeare? How about Arthur Miller? Tennessee Williams? But, I digress.
“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is disappointing but exciting. You simply cannot pull your eyes away from bizarre plot twist after increasingly bizarre plot twist. It’s like watching your childhood home burn down before your eyes. To tell the truth, I don’t blame Jack Thorne or John Tiffany for throwing down the gasoline; I blame Rowling for lighting the match. Here’s to hoping the upcoming movie “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” will give fans what they’ve been hoping for and missing: magic, depth and a great memory-erasing charm.