If the world is divided into two camps — Harry Potter fans who wanted more and Harry Potter fans who were satisfied with the ending of Book 7 — both will find something to support their point of view in “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.” This four-act play opened in London Saturday night, and the published script, which went on sale early Sunday morning, broke pre-order records on Amazon.
The play was written by Jack Thorne, based on a story developed by Thorne, J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany. Tiffany is the director of the West End production, and it must be a doozy, because the effects required by the script are fantastic: wands emitting fire, transformations of one character into another.
With a “time turner” as a key prop, “Cursed Child” travels fluidly through Potter history, revisiting dramatic moments from the saga. It begins right where “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” ended — at the train station, with a middle-aged Harry and Ginny sending their son, Albus, off to Hogwarts. Rowling introduces a child for Draco Malfoy, a boy named Scorpius.
In “Cursed Child,” the sons of the rivals become good friends. Early scenes speed us through their first two years at Hogwarts. From the moment he is sorted into the house of Slytherin instead of his father’s Griffindor, Albus hates the place. Constant comparisons to his celebrity parent culminate in a huge row.
“I just wish you weren’t my dad,” says Albus.
To his own horror, Harry replies, “Well, there are times I wish you weren’t my son.”
Albus and Scorpius never arrive at Hogwarts for their third year. Instead, they take off on time travels to right the wrongs of the past: the Triwizard Tournament of 1994, the horrible Halloween of 1981. Fans will find that reading this play, with its telegraphic stage directions, requires far more imagination than they were used to exercising with the vividly fleshed-out novels.
For some readers, that will be a downside, and for others it will be a part of the fun. But the more you love the script, the more you’ll want to see it come to life on stage.
Producers have announced that 250,000 new tickets go on sale Aug. 4. Plane ticket to London, anyone?