As the breathless blurbs go: he’s back! After 19 years! And so are Ron and Hermione! And Hagrid, Snape, Cedric Diggory and Dumbledore, (don’t ask), Moaning Myrtle and oh, quite a few of the Hogwarts lot we have come to know and like. It’s a new adventure, it contains all the requisite dangers, and never mind that it’s a play, it’s one gripping story.
However, it’s not Harry at the heart of this new adventure, it’s his somewhat troubled son Albus Severus Potter. In fact, when you come to think of it, there are quite a few troubled souls in here. Albus, struggling to come out of his famous father`s shadow; Harry, trying his level best to reach out and make substantial contact with Albus; Delphi, wanting the course of her cousin Cedric’s life changed; Scorpius Malfoy battling rumours that he is actually Lord Voldemort’s son; Draco, with his less-than- savoury past looming over him.
On the Untroubled Souls list are Hermione, (now the Minister for Magic and Harry’s boss) and Ron, who make a sweet couple; Minerva McGonagall who seems quite content running Hogwarts; even Snape who comes off more stoic than angry or bitter here.
Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy become best buddies (of course) and team up to wield a forbidden Time- Turner and go back to the Triwizard Tournament (back from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, remember?) and see if they can bring Cedric to opt for a different choice than he did back then, and thus avert the course of Potter history, as it were. Biting off more than these kids can chew, of course, and as events unfold rapidly, everyone gets a reality check.
The staged version of this story has received rave reviews and one senses it will make for spectacular viewing. So. Do we discount the emotional baggage we bring to this story as fans of the Potter tales? I think we shouldn’t. Sure, the troubles of the troubled characters are touched on but lightly, and there’s not enough darkness and dread here, of the sort we read of and watched Harry Potter experience in his growing-up years. The characters are almost all familiar but a tad unidimensional.
Fan fiction? Yes, but what’s the beef if it’s fan fiction that is pitch perfect (JKR’s words) and contains contribution from the original author? Let’s not overthink this, shall we? It`s the return of magic, to the printed page and onto the stage as well.
Does He Who Must Not Be Named come back? Well, you need to read on to discover that. Does one come away from the story with this niggling thought that there’s going to be more showings of this lot? Well yes, actually. Rowling has said she carries that world around in her head all the time.
Potterheads can rejoice in anticipation, Potter detractors can send up a groan.
Sheila Kumar is an independent writer and manuscript editor, as well as author of a collection of short stories titled Kith and Kin, Chronicles of a Clan (Rupa Publications). She blogs at bindersfullawords.blogspot.com, themelekatbook.blogspot.com and bindersfulla.blogspot.com