Since the release of the first Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone on the 26th June 1997, the series by J.K. Rowling has become one of the most successful of all time. The final book, Deathly Hallows, holds the world record for the most copies ever sold in a period of twenty-four hours and the most copies sold in one week. But on the 31st July 2016, that record was contested and had a rival that made it to second place. It is no surprise that book was also part of the Harry Potter franchise.
Ever since it was announced that a play featuring the next generation of Harry Potter was going to hit the stage, fans have been eagerly awaiting the next instalment. On the day tickets were released, there were so many sales that the server crashed. I was just one of the many thousands of distressed victims.
After waiting three hours in a virtual queue, it finally got to my turn to buy tickets to the play. And then the server crashed. to my dismay I was sent back to the end of the queue again and had to wait another three hours before I could finally secure tickets. I had hoped to buy them for the first preview performance, but the earliest I could get was December 2016.
How was I going to survive the suspense? How was I going to avoid all the spoilers? How was I going to join in discussions with the rest of the Harry Potter community who had already seen the play?
And then all my problems were solved. The script of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child was going to be made available. I pre-ordered the moment I found out, and then the day of release I stayed up past midnight to finish it. So after all the excitement in the run up, is Harry Potter and the Cursed Child a worthy sequel to the series?
Based on both my own and the response of other fans, our overall impression is that the play feels like a piece of very well written fan fiction. This is technically an accurate description as unfortunately the story was not written by JK Rowling herself. Rowling merely approved the play, which was written by Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany. As a result, the plot does feel very cliched and the character relationships are full of fantasised fan shippings. The plot fulfils all a fans' dreams, but what we dream about is not necessarily what is best for the story in terms of plausibility.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is very well written; the dialogue is an excellent combination of pathos and humour, and keeps the plot flowing. Despite being in script form rather than prose, it is a very easy read, and each scene can be visualised clearly. The plot is gripping although not entirely believable, and it is disappointing that so much time is spent looking back at the past rather than focussing on the present/future. I would also have liked to have seen more of the series's key characters. Hagrid and the Weasley family barely get a look in; even Ron has a relatively minor part in the play. Given that The Cursed Child is meant to be about the next generation, the focus is very narrow. There is no mention of Teddy Lupin, Hugo, James, and Lily are hardly seen, and Rose only has a minor role. All the focus is on Albus and Scorpius Malfoy, whose first three years at Hogwarts are brushed over swiftly in the first few scenes.
After finishing the book I felt very excited and happy. I had been left with a buzz because of all the new content that had been added to the Harry Potter world and all the new theories that were generating in my mind. Given time to mull things over, however, I can see many flaws and feel a bit disappointed with the end result. It is a great story, but not quite worthy as a sequel or piece of cannon.
Two things that must, however, be borne in mind is that this is just the rehearsal edition of the script. The final version will not be released until next year and who knows what changes that might bring. Second, a script is very different to a book.You do not get the detailed descriptions, you do not read the characters' inside thoughts. To truly appreciate the story and get the full feel of everything that happens, one must see it on stage. There it will be brought to life through acting, costumes, special effects, music, etc. I for one am really looking forward to seeing the play live.