"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child"

A Play Based on the Original New Story by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
The special rehearsal edition of the new Harry Potter script!. Rob Stothard

Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers about the plot of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as well as spoilers about the Harry Potter series.

The new play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, is set nineteen years after the end of J.K. Rowling’s seventh installment of the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Fans anticipated this new addition to the world of Harry Potter as the long-awaited eighth book, but readers should note that is not written solely by J.K.

Rowing; authors John Tiffany and Jack Thorne collaborated with Rowling.

There are, however, clear areas of the book that are pure Rowling, such as scenes taken from the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. When Dumbledore’s portrait speaks - “Ah, really, what does my opinion matter anymore? I am paint and memory, Harry, paint and memory” – its words are also obviously the words of the original author. Fans of the series should take this line to heart, remember that the books that came before Harry Potter and the Cursed Child are themselves “paint and memory,” and approach this new story with an understanding that it is a new creation all its own: a walk down memory lane alongside a brand new adventure.

The biggest difference between this story and the previous seven books is that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a theatrical play written in four acts.

This can make reading and appreciating the story difficult for those unaccustomed to reading scripts, even if they would enjoy a production of the play. A play is meant to be seen and experienced, not read without an actor’s interpretation of lines, comedic timing, or expression. This play is also supposed to be seen in two performances - a matinee followed by an evening show or in as consecutive a manner as an audience member can manage.

An audience member stays in the world of the play versus a causal reader who may take several days to read the script, putting it down and picking it up as their time and schedule allow. Another note to the reader is that the magic of this play is supposed to happen onstage in a very visual way. When compared to reading several well-written paragraphs describing a spell or sequence of events, reading stage directions and production notes is rather dry and lackluster. It is difficult to judge a script until it is performed and therefore HP fans should approach Harry Potter and the Cursed Child expecting a different experience than they had with the original books.

J.K. Rowling’s hope is that the power of the Harry Potter franchise brings a new generation of audience members to the theater. She witnessed what her books did for childhood literacy and believes some of that fervor might entice young people to experience the theater. During a red carpet interview, she says, “We’d love to think of children who might otherwise find theater a quite intimidating space would come and see a real play, a long play, and love it, and that would turn them on to other theater perhaps.”

Production

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child premiered on July 30th, 2016 at the Palace Theatre in London.

The play made headlines when casting directors chose actress Noma Dumezweni to play the role of Hermione. Noma Dumezweni is an award-winning actress who happens to be black. This casting choice has been met with a lot of praise along with the usual vitriol that social media permits. But, as J.K. Rowling said in an interview, “idiots were going to idiot.” She defends the actress and Dumezweni’s casting further saying that Hermione’s skin color was never specified. She tweeted: “Canon: brown eyes, frizzy hair, and very clever. White skin was never specified. Rowling loves black Hermione.”

Plot Synopsis

Note: This is only a partial synopsis that follows the story of the two main characters, Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy.

Act I

Nineteen years after the defeat of Lord Voldemort, Harry Potter’s second son, Albus Severus Potter, is heading off to the Hogwarts School.

Albus is concerned that he will be sorted into Slytherin House, a schoolhouse that his father fought against and despised. Albus’s fears come true as the sorting hat does put him in Slytherin and he meets his best friend there, Scorpius Malfoy. Scorpius is Draco Malfoy’s son. The animosity between the Potter family and the Malfoy family runs deep. Albus is at once horrified and elated that he is separated from his father’s shadow.

Scorpius Malfoy is also different from his father. He is a shy, quiet, rather nerdy boy who does not have many friends. He is as delighted to find a best friend in Albus as Albus is in him. Scorpius Malfoy has a dark rumor spread about him. The rumor is that Draco and his wife had trouble conceiving a child and used a rare time turner to go back in time and conceive a child with Lord Voldemort, a child that turned out to be Scorpius. This time turner is rare in that it can take the bearer back not just a few hours, but years and possibly decades.

Albus overhears a conversation between Harry and Amos Diggory. Cedric Diggory, Amos’s son, was killed by Lord Voldemort and Amos wants to bring him back using the fabled rare time turner. Harry insists it isn’t possible. Albus meets Delphi, Amos’s caretaker and she invites him to come and visit Amos Diggory sometime and listen to his story. After getting in a huge fight with his father, Albus decides that Harry is wrong not to try and find the time turner and go save Cedric. Albus convinces Scorpius to escape off the school train with him and go on an adventure to save Cedric Diggory.

The two boys meet up with Delphi and concoct a plan to use polyjuice and break into Hermione’s office and steal the time turner. The plan is flawed but ultimately successful.

Act II

Now in possession of the time turner, Albus, Scorpius, and Delphi make a plan to save Cedric by going back in time and ruining his performance in the Triwizard Tournament. If Cedric does so poorly that he can’t be in the maze with Harry when the two of them are transported to Voldemort, then he’ll never die.

Scorpius and Harry dress in robes from a competing school and go back in time. They do indeed mess up Cedric’s performance in the first task, but when they get back things have changed. For one, Albus is no longer in Slytherin House. He’s in Gryffindor. Ron Weasley, Albus’s uncle is no longer married to Hermione, and he works at the ministry for magic and not The Weasley Wizard Wheezes joke shop. Hermione is no longer Minster for Magic and instead teaches at Hogwarts. Lastly, since Hermione and Ron never married they don’t have any children and Albus’s cousin, Rose, is gone.

Delphi comes to the two boys at Hogwarts and tells them that history changed, but not enough. Cedric still died. They need to go back in time again.

However, after their second adventure back in time when Scorpius gets back to the present, he is alone. Albus has disappeared because their interference caused Harry Potter’s death twenty years ago. Now Dolores Umbridge is running the school and Lord Voldemort is in power.

Act III

In this alternate time, Scorpius is no longer an unpopular nerd with only the awkward Potter as his friend. He is athletic, popular, and on track to be head boy. Scorpius enjoys how confident he feels, but misses his friend, his crush (Rose), and his loving relationship with his father. He becomes determined to set things right and seeks out allies in the form of Ron, Hermione, and Severus Snape. All four go back in time to the first time Albus and Scorpius meddled and stop the two boys. Time reverts back to the correct timeline that was in place at the beginning of the play and everyone is back where they should be.

Albus and Scorpius decide to destroy the time turner and tell Delphi who shows up at the school. They think she is there to help, but instead, she kidnaps them and takes them back farther in time than ever. Back to Halloween night, 1981, the night that Voldemort first tried to kill Harry Potter.

Act IV

Albus and Scorpius are trapped in 1981. Delphi has smashed the time turner and revealed herself to be the daughter of Lord Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange. Albus and Scorpius send a coded message to the future in the form of Harry’s baby blanket and hope that Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, and Draco can decode it and come rescue them. Draco reveals that he has another time turner hidden away that can bring them all to the rescue.

The whole crew goes back in time and reunites. Harry transforms into Voldemort to trick Delphi and ruin her plan. They are successful, but must still stay and watch the events of that tragic night together.

Albus and Harry come together as a result of their shared adventure and resolve to work harder on their relationship as father and son. They end the play with the goal of recognizing one another as individuals and respecting their differences.

Characters

Below is a list of characters found in the play. In the original production at the Palace Theatre, actors doubled and tripled in the roles. For example, actor Paul Bentall played Uncle Vernon, Severus Snape, and Lord Voldemort. For more information on the doubling of roles reference the back of the script or visit the play's website: www.harrypottertheplay.com.

Craig Bowker Jr.

Moaning Myrtle

Lily Potter Sr

Uncle Vernon

Severus Snape

Lord Voldemort

Scorpions Malfoy

Albus Potter

Hermione Granger

Polly Chapman

Hagrid

Sorting Hat

Yann Fredericks

Aunt Petunia

Madam Hooch

Dolores Ubridge

Amos Diggory

Albums Dumbledore

Trolley Witch

Professor McGonagall

Stationmaster

Ginny Potter

Cedric Diggory

James Potter Jr

James Potter Sr

Dudley Dursley

Karl Jenkins

Viktor Krum

Harry Potter

Draco Malfoy

Bane

Rose Granger-Weasley

Young Hermione

Delphi Diggory

Ron Weasley

Young Harry Potter

Lily Potter Jr