Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

harry_potter_and_the_cursed_child_special_rehearsal_edition_book_coverHARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD
Author: JK Rowling, John Tiffany & Jack Thorne
Publisher: Little Brown Book Group
341 pages

WHO doesn’t know Harry Potter? The rags-to-riches or more accurately orphan-to-wizard coming-of-age saga of Harry Potter, Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley who first emerged in 1997 has managed to enchant millions of children (and adults) around the world, turning Rowling into a billionaire.

The legacy of the Potter series complete with the accompanying blockbuster films set the bar incredibly high. No other book in this genre has come as close to being as phenomenally successful ever since.

I am an unashamed fangirl of the Harry Potter series. Admittedly a little old for this genre (but who’s complaining?), I’ve laughed, cheered and vicariously lived through the adventures of Potter and his two sidekicks in their quest to outwit and defeat the Dark Lord (he who’s missing a nose). And yes, I counted among those who mourned the death of Severus Snape in the last book of the series.

Diehard Potter fans continue to choke up at the word “Always” long after the series ended. That is Snape’s monosyllabic declaration which summed up the perennial unrequited love story that outshone any other modern love stories for a long while.

Then the eighth book comes along.

On July 31, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new play based on the collaborative storytelling efforts by Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany premiered at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End. The publication of the rehearsal script marks the much-awaited sequel to what was thought to be the end of the Potter saga in Deathly Hallows Part 2 back in 2011.

Continuing where the last book left off, Cursed Child sets the scene 19 years after the death of Voldermort where a middle-aged Harry Potter, now an overworked Ministry of Magic employee, sends off his sons to Hogwarts School of Magic at Platform 9¾, King’s Cross Station.

The play shines its spotlight on Albus Potter, Harry’s youngest son, weaving a tale of a misunderstood boy bearing the weight (and the name) of a family legacy in the midst of finding himself while Harry grapples with a past which refuses to stay dead.

The Cursed Child is cursed with the high expectations of fans used to Rowling’s spectacular power of storytelling. Borrowing heavily from the previous books of the series, this new addition tries too hard and fails miserably in the attempt.

The plot is ho-hum, the familiar characters sound like overblown parodies of themselves and the misunderstood protagonist fails to elicit the same sympathy I had for Harry Potter during his own ‘I’m-a-misunderstood-unloved-orphan’ phase. The fact that Rowling did not write the script probably explains the fan-fiction “feel” of the book.

You could argue that expectations should be different, taking into account that a script is limited in its scope to tell a complete story, and having to fit within the confines of both the stage and time.

However expectations aside, it is still missing a vital ingredient — the vintage Rowling touch that made her Harry Potter series a cornerstone in modern young adult literature.

As much as Cursed Child is an assured commercial success thanks to the legions of Harry Potter fans tripping over themselves to obtain a copy, it’s sadly about as magical as a hapless Muggle caught in rush hour on the Federal Highway on a rainy Monday morning.

(Editor’s Note : Federal Highway is a Malaysian controlled-access highway connecting the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, and Klang, Selangor. The jam on this highway starts as early as 7am and it’s like everyone’s here – cars, buses, lorries, even cement mixers!)

What’s Hot: Amid the disappointment, it’s admittedly nice meeting Harry Potter again, though it reminds me of the time I met a former crush after many years only to find him changed into a tiresome git with a beer gut.

What’s Not: It’s like being presented with a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Bean and discovering every one of them broccoli-flavoured. What gives, Rowling?

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