Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Review of 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

Image result for harry potter and the cursed child book cover "Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage.  The play will receive its world premiere in London's West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn't much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-aged children.

While Harry Potter grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted.  As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places."

I bought this almost as soon as I heard about it and since that point, it's just been sitting on my shelf staring at me.  I don't know why it took me so long to read this.

This book comes with mixed reviews.  From what I could tell, people either really, really liked it or had extreme beef with it.  I'm... somewhere in the middle, but leaning towards having beef with it.

Overall, I thought the story was engaging.  Time travel is definitely overused and it's misunderstood enough where you can bend the logic behind it.  I thought that this play assumed too much about time travel, both that extreme things can happen if you change even one small detail from the past and that you can change things back to how they were "meant" to happen.  I think that when you include time travel in your story, you're demanding a lot of buy-in from your audience, just because time travel tends to work differently across different stories that we have access to.

As I was reading and watching reviews prior to reading this play, one major complaint was about how Harry was portrayed.  At one point as things have gotten more complicated between Harry and his son Albus, he essentially says that he wishes he [his son] had never been born.  He admits that he said this in a moment of weakness, but because of his past and because of his experience of family (a very fragile experience to say the least), it's very unlikely that he would have actually said and even momentarily meant to say something like this to his son, of all people.  Not after experiencing abuse his whole life from a variety of adults in his life.

A lot of the dialogue was just awkward... like, I would read some of the lines and I couldn't even imagine what they would sound like as part of an actual show.

One thing I did appreciate was the friendship between Scorpius and Albus.  It was nice to see the products of good and evil, so to speak, come together.  Something I'm still wondering though is... why does Gryffindor and Slytherin continue to be mortal enemies of each other?  Obviously Voldemort is dead and there has been several years of healing... you'd think there would be more of an opening for inter-house friendships... I guess it just felt like so much hadn't changed even though the cast of characters passing through Hogwarts was very different from when Harry went to school.  Hogwarts should be a totally different place.  That's been my experience of schools whenever students come through.

Overall, I'm glad I read this, but I won't be reading it again.  It was nice to be brought back into Harry's world in a way that I won't be able to ever again with the original series.  I'll never be able to read the books for the first time again.  But it felt like the writers of this play only had a passing knowledge of Harry's world, so I likely won't be making a return trip.

I give 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child':
Thanks for Reading!


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