When I heard that there was going to be a new play opening about the wizarding world of Harry Potter I definitely felt a clear sense of horror and dread. When I later heard that the script would be published, I actually groaned aloud and dramatically asked my friend (the bearer of the bad news) ‘Whyyy!?’
We’ve all felt it, that despair when a beloved childhood memory is resurrected by greedy corporations for money, and in the process is completely ruined. As a child I was a complete bookworm, and the Harry Potter series was my ultimate love. Middle aged Harry Potter and co.? I did not want that in my head, interfering with my beautiful memories, and so I refused to buy the 8th instalment, entitled Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
My willpower lasted about a month before I did buy a copy, and I urge anyone with doubts to do the same. Reading this script was like meeting an old friend that you thought you would never see again; it was different but also reassuringly familiar. The old gang, Harry, Ron and Hermione are back, and there are some wonderful appearances from a range of old, beloved characters which it is really nice to hear more about.
But the focus is really on the next generation of young witches and wizards, notably Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy, who are on their own adventures to find out who they are. The struggle to define themselves separately from their famous (and infamous) parents is at the heart of this tale. This really was a stroke of genius from the writers, making what could have easily been a forced storyline into a motivated plot full of intricate characters. The blend of old and new is well-crafted storytelling at its best.
I have used the word script throughout this review, and to be clear, this is not a novel, it is the official script book of the West End production. It is not entirely written by J. K. Rowling but is a collaboration with Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. Clearly this is a marked departure from the format of the previous seven instalments but I did not find that a drawback. It remains a very digestible and coherent narrative with some fantastically descriptive stage directions. Harry Potter and the Cursed is a charming and poignant return to the world that I fell in love with aged 9; my precious memories remain unscathed and actually enhanced.