A new addition to the Harry Potter franchise follows the next generation of Wizards.
Photo courtesy of Tom Blunt
By Lindsay Darbyshire
J.K. Rowling, with the assistance of theater writer Jack Thorne and director John Tiffany, makes yet another contribution to the worlds of fantasy, drama and adventure fiction with her newest work, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts One and Two.
The play takes place in the present-day wizarding world. Harry Potter, the infamous “Boy Who Lived”, is now married and the father of three school-age children. The middle child, Albus Severus Potter, is the main character of the story, one who has a knack for defying his parents and finding trouble.
The story follows Albus as he embarks on his journey at Hogwarts, school of witchcraft and wizardry. Finding it hard to fit in, Albus has but one true friend, Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Harry Potter’s teenage enemy, Draco Malfoy.
The unlikely pair, later facing much more than just the gossip and discrimination streaming from their peers, form a profound bond that carries them throughout the plot.
Of course, the original gang of Harry Potter, Ginny and Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy are not forgotten. They are major characters in the story as well, following them in their older age and harrowing journeys that take place later in the story.
Tensions are tight between Harry and his son, Albus. Harry struggles to show his love for his son in a way that is undeniable, and Albus has a hard time accepting it.
The father and son make it a habit of infuriating the other and causing emotional turmoil. Both grow throughout the story, and the power of family love is tested.
Rowling, an exceptional author, trades in her novelist hat for that of a playwright. With this new format, there are some new challenges.
Although her descriptive eloquence is dearly missed, the dialogue of the book is sharp and witty. The new format, although slightly strange and foreign at first, is refreshing. Rowling has the task of making the characters come to life almost exclusively through their words due to the limited description allowed by the play format, and succeed she does.
The characters reveal their development through their words and actions, which are clear and precise in terms of writing style.
What we miss in terms of the character building is really getting into the mind of the character. Without the description of internal dialogue, we are robbed of some of the internal turmoil the characters are facing. Although Rowling does show some of that through the dialogue of the characters in the form of short monologues, the true inner workings of their minds are lost to us, and thus we lose the deepest part of the character development. This is strictly a format issue though, not that of writing.
The obstacles, although they morph as the story proceeds, are cohesive and play logically off each other in a way that is genius. There is never a lack of action, whether it be emotionally dramatic or physically demanding. With the key elements of a good story — character desire, obstacle, action and emotion — pulling the plot along, the book springs to life and keeps the reader turning pages to keep up with the characters and their battles.
The themes are the story, although there are several, eventually boil down to relationships, and more specifically, love. This theme, being extremely strong with emotion, gives the story another dimension, one that the reader has the privilege to take part in.
The father and son in this story have an extremely difficult time understanding each other. This leads to trouble in the relationship and in turn, the love between them is questioned. With a defiant son and a man unequipped with proper parenting skills, problems arise and trust is broken.
One of the main obstacles in this story is the attempt to mend the relationship between Harry and Albus, something that takes time, effort and true understanding.
Albus and Scorpius depend heavily on each other throughout the play. Due to the taxing situations they find themselves in, the pair must remain loyal and fight for the safety of one another. Their friendship carries them through the toughest of battles and shows that their relationship is built off of the unfailing love they have for one another.
With that relationship, Rowling shows that anything is possible, even saving the world.
Although the format takes some getting used to, Rowling has created yet another masterful installment in the Harry Potter series. It deserves some respect, the way Rowling pushed the envelope in her new play style and made a brilliant story in fresh, exciting format territory.
There is no question that Rowling, Thorne and Tiffany have created a story well worth reading.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is available around the world in an array of different formats.