“Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” takes place 19 years after the events of the original seven books, but still grips the reader with the same thrill and excitement.
This two-part stage play was written by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, with surprisingly minimal input from the original author of the franchise, J.K. Rowling. The play first premiered on July 30, and its rehearsal script was released a day later.
In “Cursed Child,” the reader gets to focus on Albus Potter, Harry’s son, and his struggle with facing an unwanted legacy, but it also manages to give adequate attention to the past.
“Cursed Child” has already done very well, selling two million copies in two days. And the reason is clear: it’s extremely well written. To start off, it takes the universe that was already set up by Rowling and uses it to further develop the characters and their relationships between family and friends.
Let’s look to our title character. Fans know plenty about Harry Potter. They’ve practically grown up learning of his rebellious nature and unwavering loyalty. They know him as a student, a friend, and a hero. But they don’t know him as a father.
Thorne kept Harry consistent as a character. Harry’s willingness to do anything to save the son who wants nothing to do with him and standing up to friends and enemies alike, reminds the reader of his loyalty and gives a new paternal side to him.
Thorne also does a good job introducing new characters. Albus, the protagonist, could’ve easily come off as bratty and unlikable, with a seemingly irrational hatred of his own father, but we’re able to see his inherited fierce loyalty through his friendship with Scorpius and his desire to escape from not his father, but his father’s legacy.
Scorpius Malfoy, son of Harry’s enemy Draco Malfoy, gives something unique the story. He has a certain naiveté to him that’s never really been seen in a Harry Potter book. Unlike how Draco was set up to be someone to hate in the first seven books, Scorpius is the complete opposite—very sweet and likeable—especially as Albus’ only true friend.
The play focuses less on the magical aspect of Harry Potter, which was something that would have left readers in awe and wonder. But, by focusing more on familial relationships and friendships, the play is able to connect to the reader on a much deeper level.
As good as the play is, we also have to ask: is it too much of a good thing?
It’s been 19 years since the publication of the first book of the series and about nine years since the last book was published. There are franchises that have gone on longer, but many believed the Harry Potter series was concluded with the seventh book published in 2007. As a result, the sudden announcement of a new addition was surprising, but not necessarily in a good way.
There have already been spin-off books and stories, many of which can be found on the Pottermore website, and it has even been confirmed that a spin-off movie called “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” is in the works.
But that’s exactly what they are—spin-offs. “Cursed Child,” despite the significance it aims to hold, is just a spin-off, and thus can’t gather as big of an audience as its predecessors.
After the creation of so many spin-offs, it could be valid to say J.K. Rowling should’ve left her fictional universe be. Seeing that the original series consists of seven books and eight movies, all the spin-offs that came afterwards serve no true purpose besides utilizing the series’ fame to sell more, especially since Rowling has no other plans to actually continue the series itself.
The unnecessary continuation of a good series can lead to its downfall. “Cursed Child,” however good it may be, can and will always be viewed as just another spin-off and not a work truly comparable to the originals. What’s worse is that if “Cursed Child” wasn’t as good as it turned out to be, the entire franchise could have been affected.
If I could say anything to Rowling on this matter, I’d say: Create whatever you want to create. No one has the right to stop you, but be careful; if your future works are even the tiniest bit lackluster, there are great implications concerning the success of the whole franchise.