Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has some brilliant stage effects but is more like fan-fiction than the real thingby Nabeelah Jaffer / August 1, 2016 / Leave a comment
There are a few children but not many. Most of those who have given up consecutive evenings to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are, like me, in their twenties. There are two Kuwaiti fans who in honour of Harry have etched silver scars on their foreheads, an American girl in a “Marauder’s Map” dress who has travelled to London especially for the plays, and rows of young men in round-framed glasses. A few middle-aged men in Potter-themed t-shirts pose for photographs.
I was eight years old when the first book came out, and I retain a nostalgic fondness for JK Rowling’s stories, which I grew up reading. As always with escapist fiction, much of the fun was in the detail—collectable chocolate frog cards and butterbeer and romantic sub-plots and friends falling out and making up again—against a backdrop of dozens of well-developed minor storylines and characters. The most complex and exciting of these defied a simple distinction between good and evil; at her best Rowling sketched out flawed characters who could be cruel and heroic by turns. Her detective plots were sufficiently fleshed out to make her alternative magical world a recognisable echo of ordinary pre-teen life—with emotional and moral dilemmas played out for heightened stakes.
The latest ambitious instalment in the series is beautifully staged and contains enough surprises to keep fan-filled audiences gasping and groaning. But it offers the bare bones of a Potter novel with little flesh. Part of…