Friday, December 16, 2016

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Parts One and Two written by Jack Thorne based on an original new story by J. K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne

It's nineteen years later and Harry Potter is a grown man with three children ready to head off to Hogwarts. His eldest son, Albus Severus Potter, isn't that great at magic, gets sorted into Slytherin, and becomes best friends with Draco Malfoy's son Scorpius. Albus is lost in the shadow of his famous father and a bit of a disappointment to everyone around (except Scorpius). Harry is beleaguered both by Draco, who wants Harry to squash rumors that Scorpius is really the son of Voldemort, and by Amos Diggory, who blames Harry for his son Cedric's death during the TriWizard Tournament way back in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In an attempt to impress his dad, Albus and Scorpius steal a Time Turner from the Ministry of Magic and, with the help of Amos's niece Delphi, tries to save Cedric's life. As with most time travel stories, going back in the past to make things better inevitably makes them worse.

While the story itself is interesting enough (though average to poor by Harry Potter standards), the book suffers from being a script. A lot of the stage direction and action seems hard if not impossible to produce on stage. For example, Polyjuice Potion is used to change one character into another. There are a lot of locations and magical fights that are hard to picture as convincing on the stage. An early montage sequence where Albus ages a few years is less effective because I wondered how they could possibly pull it off convincingly. The experience of seeing a production and how impressively they handle things would be much better than reading and scratching one's head at the improbability of executing it well.

I would much rather have read the original story than the play version of the story. Reading a play is a lesser experience precisely because the play is supposed to be produced on a stage with actors, costumes, sets, et cetera. It's like reading sheet music rather than listening to a song. The full experience just isn't there. Of course, the execution of the song could be wonderful or horrible depending on the performer's skills (or lack thereof). A novel version of this story would be better for me because I'd rely on imagining the story rather than imagining it as a stage production.

My advice would be to wait around for a production to come to a city near you or wait for a novel version or the probably inevitable movie version.

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