Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by J K Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne

I had LOTS of doubts about a new Harry Potter.

Did we really need a new Harry Potter? Wasn't this just a crass cash grab? Was there anything new to be said about the power of love?

As it turns out the answer is yes!

Rowling along with Tiffany and Thorne had plenty more to say about the power of love and the art of forgiveness. After all, Harry was a pretty easy character to love. But what would happen if the main character was less lovable? How would we all respond then?

Young Albus is struggling. Struggling with being the youngest in a high achieving family. Struggling with being famous thanks to who his father is and struggling to feel competent or relevant.

It's only natural, then, that when he starts at Hogwarts that he would be drawn into friendship with another outsider. Another boy struggling with his family history and his sense of belonging - young Scorpius Malfoy.

I'm not going to reveal any major (or minor) plot points, you will have to read the book (or see the play) for yourself if you're that curious. My main concern, was centred around whether or not it was actually worthwhile to continue the series at all.

Given the huge response to Rowling's tweets in previous years about what the Potter children would have been up to, it's easy to say, yes, the interest was there.

Did Rowling herself feel compelled to write more about the Potter's and Hogwarts? I guess only she can really answer that, but given that she chose not to write a book herself perhaps suggests she was a little ambivalent or maybe just more focused on other creative pursuits.

Although perhaps those other creative pursuits played right into the idea of creating a play (see what I did there?)

As for the play itself, if I lived in the UK, I would have moved heaven and earth to get tickets for the show. Reviews for the play generally agree that the 2 part experience was worth it. As a theatrical production, The Cursed Child works. And if it ever comes to Australia, I will be there.

But what about the script?
Was it necessary to produce a hugely publicised co-written script for the event?

Given that it's Harry Potter, again, you'd have to say yes. People want to know, even if they disagree with what Rowling et al have ultimately devised.

The tricky thing about The Cursed Child though is that it's only half about Harry Potter and it's only half about the childhood world of Hogwarts. And Harry Potter as an adult, struggling with how to be a father, juggling work, marriage, friendships and fame is not the same as the youthful, idealistic Harry that we watched grow up. Mr Books, who has also read the script, said that the adult Harry, Hermione and Ron were still acting and sounding just like kids playing at being grown-ups. The transition was always going to be awkward - for all of us.

Albus (and Scorpius) are baring the brunt of inter-generational damage. Their character growth and development and that of all the main players felt believable and real.

All of that comes through in the script.

What doesn't come through as well though (at least for someone who is imaginatively impaired) is the glorious blend of ordinary life and magical life that is alive in the earlier books. I missed the descriptive language.

I ended up skimming through the final half of the script just to find out what happened. It was a quick, easy read that left me delighted to see that once again, the power of love and hope wins out. The magic of Harry Potter is still out there. You just have to believe!

5 comments:

  1. I agree with you about the theme of love and hope as in other Harry Potter books, but I confess I had a really hard time reading this book. I don't read scripts easily and well because of the way I skip ahead. I found it very frustrating.

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    1. Yes, I ended up skimming very quickly just to get a sense of the story.
      I wonder though, if teachers will find it a useful tool to discuss how plays work. Harry Potter being much more accessible to the average teen than Shakespeare :-)

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  2. I loved reading this play! Like you, if it ever tours to Australia, I'll be among the first to buy tickers. I can't imagine how fantastic it must be on the stage, to think of where some of the scenes take place. I found the representatives of the new generation very endearing :)

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    1. Yes the new kids were interesting, but I did feel like Harry, Hermione & Ron were just playing at being adults. There didn't seem to be enough growth or maturity, but I guess a stage production to show more than is apoatentbin the script. It all comes down to interpretation.

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    2. I sort of had the same reaction. The two guys in particular, were both very reactive, weren't they? Some of Harry's behaviour bothered me enough to write this discussion post, Is Harry Potter a Bad Dad?

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