Cursed Child begins with that famous scene from the epilogue of Deathly Hallows with Harry, Ron, Hermione and indeed Draco Malfoy seeing their children onto the Hogwarts express. The story follows an unlikely friendship between Harry’s middle son Albus Severus, and Draco Malfoy’s son Scorpius, meeting on the train to Hogwarts in a scene that consciously mirror’s Harry’s first meeting with Ron and Hermione. One major thing which this story gets spot on and which I recognized instantly is the instant complexity and realism of its characters. Despite the fact that we do not have a specific central character perspective in the script the way we do in the novels, we quickly understand Albus and Scorpius and even the attitude they have.
The story. Also come back to Harry and the gang. All now adults in their late thirties. I praise that thing which is how well Thorns and Rowling manage to capture both the similarities and differences of the characters to their teenaged selves. I particularly loved one scene where Harry and Draco Malfoy find themselves engaging in one of the magic duels of the type familiar to anyone from the books, slipping quickly back to their teenaged attitude and Draco remarks how much fun it is, despite the fact that both men have indeed changed and realize (a little shamefacedly), exactly how they’re behaving.
The main plot of the play surrounds an illegal time turner and Albus and Scorpius’ rather ill-fated attempts to alter aspects of history reflecting upon the series. Of course, as a Doctor Who fan I can’t deny that I love time travel stories, and I can see how seeing scenes from the books on stage would be an amazing experience for any Potter fan.
These forays into time and history also let us meet characters such as Severus Snape who we otherwise wouldn’t, and made for some truly spectacular and spine tingling scenes, as well as a chance to relive things from a slightly different angle, both literally and also emotionally, since some of the points around which the plot centres are ones which any reader of the books will well remember.
Writing style wise, though this is definitely a play script not a novel, I did appreciate that the stage directions were clearly intended to be read atmospherically rather than literally, with little touches of description, albeit the descriptions that would be seen on stage rather than the descriptions of the actual environment, still descriptive nonetheless. Also, though the play script format did lack the inherent personal focus which is a major strength of Rowling’s writing, I had no trouble getting inside character emotions. My one stylistic complaint about Cursed Child is that on several occasions the dialogue felt a little heavy handed in the emotional department rather than (as is famous in the series), the way that characters of that age would actually talk. For example, one conversation in which Albus denies the rumour that Scorpius is connected to Voldemort by telling him he’s too full of kindness.
Whilst the script is definitely not the Harry Potter we loved, it is a reminder that he has grown with us. Performed on stage I can imagine this is a spectacular show. Regarding the script however, it is like the comfort of revisiting a childhood home; just bear in mind you’re older now and it might not be exactly the way you remember it.