Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
By Miriam R. Kramer
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” Literary genius William Faulkner was a figure dour and frightening enough to scare any costumed child on his doorstep asking for candy on Halloween. That youngster might have gotten a few nasty surprises in her box of Bertie Botts’ Every Flavor Beans instead of the usual Fun-Size Milky Way bars prevalent among the Potter World’s Muggles. Faulkner’s quotation represents the literal and figurative background for the long-awaited J.K. Rowling collaboration, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
The unexpected eighth installment of the Harry Potter series takes the form of a play, based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, playwright John Tiffany, and director Jack Thorne. Opened on July 30, 2016 in London’s West End, when the Special Rehearsal Edition Script was released in bookstores worldwide, it has brought Rowling’s readership back to Harry’s world. There spooks, jokes, dangerous spells, and eerie truths lurk like the terrible spiders from the Forbidden Forest bordering Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Harry and his wife, the former Ginny Weasley, have been sending their children to Hogwarts. He now works for the Ministry of Magic as the Head of Magical Law Enforcement, while Hermione Granger-Weasley, Ron Weasley’s wife, is Minister of Magic. In Act I, Scene I, Harry’s second son, Albus Severus Potter, is going to Hogwarts for his first year, along with older brother James. When Albus meets Scorpius Malfoy, the son of Draco and Astoria, on the Hogwarts Train, they strike up an immediate friendship. Their kinship discomfits
Albus less than the Sorting Hat, which sorts him, the first Potter, into Slytherin House instead of Gryffindor. Scorpius, suspected of actually being Voldemort’s child, suffers from the Malfoys’ reputation for practicing the Dark Arts and wants friendship and acceptance as much as Albus. Albus gets little of either at Hogwarts, feeling like an angry misfit as much, if he could realize it, as Harry himself ever did. The misnamed Scorpius, who follows Albus’s lead, is his only true friend and companion there and in Slytherin.
When sullen, unhappy Albus eavesdrops on his father several years later and finds out that one of the infamous, illegal Time-Turners has been confiscated, he makes the acquaintance of strong-minded Delphini Diggory, who tells him that she is the niece of Amos Diggory, Cedric Diggory’s father. Amos, a retiree now, has been asking his father to turn back time to rescue Cedric from Voldemort, who had killed Cedric at the Triwizard Tournament in the book Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
When Harry Potter regretfully refuses, teen-aged Albus begins to see a way to perform a noble act, rebel against his father, gain his own glory, and use the help of Delphini and his best friend, Scorpius, to keep Cedric alive and safe from co-winning the tournament that killed him. All he has to do is find the Time-Turner wherever Minister Granger-Weasley has hidden it in her office and plan a way to save Cedric with his best friend and follower, Scorpius.
Millennials, or anyone who loved J.K. Rowling’s world, grew up absorbing Harry Potter books as a part of themselves. Most have been thrilled to welcome a new story about Harry Potter and his best friends. They will greatly enjoy seeing heroes long gone even within the story’s timetable. Although child connoisseurs of Harry’s world have matured and now face
their own problems with love, work, and life, they will look at this new set of child characters and recognize the problems any parents have with children who wish to grow, separate themselves, and make a name for themselves alone. The fans from the 1990s and 2000s are no longer the only flaw-filled heroes. It is time to pass that torch on to the next generation not only in the wizarding world, but also in the Muggle adult readers’ intersecting universe.
So in this play, the past is theoretically changeable, and not even past, as the adults, and Harry in particular, try to understand their children and turn back time. When Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy find the newest Time-Turner, they plot with the charming but unknown Delfini Diggory, care-taker for her uncle, and learn the dangers of trying to go back in time and alter events even slightly to create a different future.
The world the children want to live in is an ideal, a world they want in part because of the perceived injustices that the past has spawned for them, not only Cedric Diggory. It takes work on the part of many beloved heroes, and misunderstood villains, of the past and present Hogwarts universe to help those in the present Potter world understand one another better.
When they experience diverse versions of “what could have been,” they also reconcile themselves to the necessity for the mistakes and suffering of their past. As in Jimmy Stewart’s classic film It’s A Wonderful Life, those events have created a flawed, but perhaps absolutely necessary, present.