I met Pepperdine’s James Thomas in Toronto just a few days after the publication of Deathly Hallows. I think I may have asked him during this conversation over breakfast if he would consider contributing his thoughts here at HogwartsProfessor. I know the Potter Pundits adventure at LeakyCauldron began soon after as did James’ published guides to the literary depths of the Hogwarts Saga. If you haven’t read Repotting Harry Potter: A Professor’s Book-by-Book Guide for the Serious Re-Reader or his Rowling Revisited: Return Trips to Harry, Fantastic Beasts, Quidditch, & Beedle the Bard, you’re overdue for a treat.
I’ve never given up on his joining us here and on MuggleNet academ
ia. Years of teasing, cajoling, out right begging were rewarded yesterday when James sent me his review of the Rehearsal draft script of a story Jo Rowling is said to have something to do with, Cursed Child. Enjoy!
Review of Jack Thorne’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
by James Thomas
A few weeks ago I was teaching in London only three miles from the theater where Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was to open. Ten or twelve of my students went to see the play, and three of them experienced a Rowling sighting. While I envied their having seen The Presence (as John Granger calls Her), I didn’t regret missing the performance and didn’t mind waiting a few more weeks to read the “Special Rehearsal Edition” of the play. All my instincts and previous reading experience told me that whatever I was going to read by Jack Thorne wasn’t going to be an eighth Harry Potter book—no more than the wretched Go Set a Watchman is the second To Kill a Mockingbird.
In fact, having just sailed on another voyage back through the seven-and-only Potter books in my London class, I came away from the rough seas of Cursed Child a bit seasick. This was an exercise in anticlimax, not unlike rereading Moby-Dick and then encountering Free Willy. Books that have only one thing in common—whether Harry or whales—can differ in every other conceivable way—in tone, depth, style, and overall literary worth. I’m certain that reading the play is a far cry from experiencing the wonders and pyrotechnics of the performance; but, having read more than my share of plays, I can also testify that a good play can radiate power and come to life on the page without the “bangs and smoke” of the stage. [Read more…]