Potterheads have done their waiting…12 years of it…in Azkaban. Okay, maybe it wasn’t in Azkaban, and maybe it was only nine years, but give us a break! That’s a long time to wait for our favourite wizarding trifecta and friends (and enemies) to return. But let me tell you, it was well worth the wait. J.K. Rowling repeatedly called The Cursed Child “not a sequel,” but time will tell.
Before I dive into my analysis and review, there are a few things you should take into account when you curl up with your favourite tea in your favourite mug to enter your favourite universe. First thing to consider is that this story was written as a play, therefore you can’t expect to read it as the next installment of the Harry Potter series. For those of you who haven’t read Shakespeare since your high school English teacher forced you to be the Soothsayer and warn the star quarterback to “Beware the Ides of March,” allow me to shed some light on the subject.
When you read a play, you don’t always know what the character is thinking. You have to rely on their lines to describe their thought process, and it’s up to the play-write to make sure this happens. The most important thing to remember is to READ THE STAGE DIRECTIONS. Without them, you are left without a setting or character actions.
Now, back to Hogwarts. The play begins where the epilogue of Deathly Hallows left us. Harry, Ginny, Ron, Hermoine, and Draco are sending their kids to Hogwarts. Albus is worried he may be sorted into Slytherin and Rose is all about the prestige of being a Granger-Weasley. As a Slytherin myself, I am greatly offended that anyone would be scared to be in the best of the Hogwarts houses. But I digress. Much like his father before him, Albus meets his future best friend on the Hogwarts Express. Soon, the dynamic duo are making memories of their own.
Albus doesn’t quite fit in to the shoes left by The Boy Who Lived, while his brother, James, seems to fit the Hogwarts mold much better. This leads Albus to search for his own path in order to find his place in the world. The story goes on to give a picture of the consequences of trying to change something in the past. They should take the Doctor’s advice about messing with fixed points in time. Wait, wrong universe.
In an attempt to keep this review as spoiler free as possible (as promised, NH), I’m going to move on to the technical side of this critique. As far as plays go, this would be a very difficult one to put on. However, if done correctly, it could be a play that would go down in history as one of the most memorable performances of modern stage productions. The drama nerd side of me was continuously trying to figure out sets and scene changes while the bookworm side of me just wanted to find out what was going to happen. The fast pace of the story made me read the whole thing in about five hours (over two days because adult life got in the way. Never grow up, kids. It’s a trap).
Another difference is that it doesn’t follow the standard one year = one book formula we’re used to from our dear J.K. Rowling. While keeping with the fast paced format, we are able to see Albus struggle through the equivalent of his middle school years. I feel ya, man. Those years are rough. Also, we’re able to see how Harry and Ginny handle parenthood after all their school adventures are in the history books. Through the lens of seeing home and school side by side, the play gives a more complete picture of our young protagonist’s life. The better the picture, the more we can understand the motivation behind a character’s choices.
The play brings back some familiar faces, while seamlessly introducing new ones. If your heart doesn’t break at least a little while reading this book, I question your humanity. With surprises in every act, The Cursed Child will keep you wanting more, while the ending will leave you satisfied with where you leave the Wizarding World. In my book, this gets a 5/5 rating for plot and execution.