Rowling, J.K., John Tiffany, & Jack Thorne: (08) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

The library got me the newest installment in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter saga, the script for the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, on its release, a bit to my surprise, and I opened it up mostly because I couldn’t decide what else I was in the mood for, and I figured spoilers would be rampant soon enough. (This is technically a play by Jack Thorne, based on a story by Rowling, John Tiffany, and Thorne; I’ve put the author names in the order they appear on the cover.)

Unfortunately, through no fault of its own, The Cursed Child hinges on two things that leave me entirely cold: time travel and daddy issues. And, of course, it’s the script of a play, so there’s an additional barrier to emotional immersion as a reader. Which is not to say that a play can’t be emotionally engaging just on the page: I’ve read at least three plays that I was enraptured by, though of course I’ve booklogged none of them (M. Butterfly, Angels in America, and The Lady’s Not for Burning; I’ve been fortunate enough to see the last two live after I read them). But the format didn’t give me the nudge I needed to get over my general lack of interest in the play’s topics.

This all left me with plenty of mental space to be distracted by several things that were mostly incidental to the plot but felt . . . gross. Here are two super-tiny, entirely content-free examples: 1) stage directions reading, “It’s a lame trick. Everyone enjoys its lameness”; and 2) a location where magic is used “for fun”: ” . . . knitting wool is enchanted into chaos, and male nurses are made to dance tango.” Because 1) it would be cool if people didn’t use “lame” to mean “weak or lousy” and 2) ha, ha, it’s so funny that men are forced to tango with each other! Are these incredibly small things? Yes. Are they entirely unnecessary? Yes. Did they pull me out of a narrative that I already wasn’t engaged with? Yes. (There are bigger and more plot-critical things, too, which I will put in a spoiler post.)

In summary: if you don’t mind daddy issues and time travel, and if you really care a lot about the family lives of some of the HP characters post-novels, this may be for you. If you wanted a wider scope post-novels, this is not.

(I do think it would be interesting to see the play if only for how they manage the considerable special effects necessary, however.)

A spoiler post follows.

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