Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Rehearsal Script Edition) by Jack Thorne, JK Rowling and John Tiffany (mild spoilers, marked)

It’s been so long since the last Harry Potter book came out. I remember midnight events for the book releases and hours (days!) of non-stop reading. Good times! Then life happened – like growing up, working, paying bills and such. I still watch the films. I still read the books (as you can see from my book review series 🙂 ). I still plan to go to the Harry Potter Studio Tours a third time (and a fourth etc.). So, all in all, Harry Potter was never really gone from my life. I just have phases where it’s more prominent and phases where I prefer reading Tolkien or I get into a TV series again.

When the announcement came Harry Potter would have a play spin-off I had mixed feelings. I actually love theatre and have acted and been behind the scenes for several productions – so I get the buzz of theatre. I love Harry Potter. So why the reluctance here? I am still not quite certain, but it might just be because of the change of medium. The book is there to really get inside the characters’ heads and really explore the wizarding world  – just for yourself and at your own pace. The films are brilliant pieces of (magical) entertainment and make you appreciate the overall story a lot, as they are much more narratively focussed than the books. Theatre is different. Theatre is all about energy. Characters and storytelling play a major part here as well, but much depends on the actors’ energy.

So here I was, neither here, nor there, but always listening out for news. I knew the play was going to be published as a book and was, I have to say, mildly annoyed to hear there would be a rehearsal script and THEN at some point the final version. I understand why this is happening  – I know how theatre works and that the rehearsal script will always inevitably change. I was just wondering whether it’s necessary to publish two versions. Anyway, I knew it was going to be published, but I didn’t plan on buying the rehearsal script. Until I had a cheeky glance in the bookshop the day the play came out…

I was hooked. I read one scene and I saw at once they were trying to re-create the Harry Potter magic – but with many, many surprises up their sleeves. So the story would feel fresh and yet familiar. So I actually bought it very soon after that and read it basically in one go. That’s the beauty of plays –  they won’t take much longer than their performance time to read 🙂 Anyway, I was not disappointed!

I really enjoyed reading it! I cannot say it’s perfect and it is very apparent that you have to actually watch the play to fully appreciate the writers’ vision behind it. It all comes together nicely, but watching the play would just make even more sense. That’s just in the nature of the medium. A play can be great even on the page, but it needs the actors to bring it to life. That’s how I felt about this script. It’s wonderful, suprising, very entertaining and also emotionally charged – for now my imagination helped me bring it to life, but I can see how seeing an actual performance would be a beautiful experience.

If you don’t want to know anything about the plot, please stop right here 🙂 I won’t give away anything major, only allude to some characters, but I appreciate if you don’t want to know anything before you see/read the play yourself.

First of all I have to say that I wasn’t quite sure about the “logical use” of the characters. I appreciate it a lot that the writers tried to allude to as many facts and little moments from the books as possible and I do love that. And all main characters are a logical choice. However, I felt Ginny and sadly Ron and Hermione did not actually add much to the story this time. Of course the focus in these stories shifts to Albus and Scorpius – and their bond is amazing! I massively enjoyed reading that and could vividly imagine their friendship. Harry is a logical side/main character as well and he has a proper journey throughout the play, like Albus. But Ron, Hermione and Ginny don’t – they are only there, supporting the plot as needed and I feel they are there because they have to be. Gone are the days when Hermione saves the day… I am speaking purely from a “form” and analysis point of view – probably when I see the play, they all make sense and are right where they are supposed to be. But reading the rehearsal script just gave me the feeling that many characters do not reach their full potential in this play.

The time-turner story is great fun, but at some point my head kept racing – does this all make sense? At some points I kept wondering – is this “wishful thinking”? Some of the characters seem to be “out of character” for the sake of saying something we always wanted to hear them say. Or for the sake of a joke. Again, I can’t comment on the delivery on stage (which might make it all excellent and worth it) or whether they have changed some of the things for the “official version” of the play. In any case, some moments didn’t quite work for me, even though they could have been highly emotional.

So all in all, I really, really enjoyed reading the script and am very grateful for this addition to the Harry Potter universe. However, I cannot help but think, that this play is better watched than read, so it’s not really possible to understand the full potential and energy of the story by just reading the book. I hope I do get to get tickets at some point (unlikely…) and I will read the “final version” script when it comes out – Harry Potter and the Cursed Child definitely got me back into the wizarding world and lifted my imagination. I enjoyed reading the play, but always kept at the back of my head – this is a different medium, so it needs to be watched to be fully appreciated. I definitely recommend reading the play, as it will help people who don’t know much about theatre get more behind what’s behind the curtain and what is needed to lay the foundations for a beautiful play – a beautiful script.

 

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About Trampoline Nerd

I’m someone who feels at home in the night sky, on the road and inside imagination.
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