J.K. Rowling, along with John Tiffany and Jack Thorne, give Harry Potter fans one more dose of magical mischief from the next generation of Hogwarts students. Instead of writing this in a novel-format, Rowling’s eighth installment is written as a play, which is currently being performed in London. It is the only Harry Potter book that is adapted for the stage. I wonder if the success of The Cursed Child on stage will pave the way for the other Harry Potter books to be adapted for the stage?
The story picks up nineteen years after it left off. Harry and Ginny have three children, James, Lily, and Albus, the youngest of which is about to get start his first year at Hogwarts. On platform 9 3/4, they catch up with Ron, Hermione, and Draco, as they are getting their children onto the Hogwarts Express. Each of the original characters retains much of their characteristics as adults – goofy Ron, intelligent Hermione, malicious Draco, and athletic Ginny.
Once at school, Albus Potter is sorted into the house of Slytherin along with his new friend Scorpius Malfoy, not Gryffindor like the other Potter’s and Weasley’s. This sets up the premise that Albus is not like his father and siblings; He struggles with the weight of his father’s notoriety and feels like a disappointment. Similarly, Scorpius struggles with the same basic issue with his father, which binds the two friends almost immediately. So, when the opportunity for adventure arises, Albus and Scorpius are eager to steal a time turner and try to right a wrong in the past. However, they quickly find out that what they alter in the past has effects that warp the life that they are used to.
On the whole, The Cursed Child is a good story, but it lacks the depth and attention to detail that Rowling’s novels usually possess. Scenes are vaguely described, the plot is thin, and dialogue lacks substance at times. Hopefully that can be added through actors on stage and creative directing. However, it is nice for the Potter fans out there to have a glimpse of what happened to the characters that many of us have become so attached to through the years growing up with Harry and his gang.
The father-son struggles throughout this book, both between Harry and Albus, as well as Scorpius and Draco, are realistic and heart wrenching at times. Each son struggles to find their own way under the weight of their father’s past. At the same time, the relationship between Harry and Draco is brought under the microscope and re-evaluated. One lesson that can be taken from the eighth, and hopefully final, Harry Potter installment is that present-day problems cannot be solved by looking to the past since life is not meant to be traveled backwards. Always move forward in time.