New ‘Cursed Child’ Condensed Version: Will the New Play’s Script Be Published?

As discussed here earlier this month, there is a new Harry Potter and the Cursed Child appearing on stages worldwide. The original four act play is only now performed in London and Hamburg and the much condensed new play has significant changes, most notably, the relationship of Scorpius and Albus has shifted from friendship to young gay love. From The Guardian review of the shorter version:

Some characters are dropped entirely and go unnoticed; others are reduced to the point that you wonder why they are included at all. (Albus’s older brother James is forgettable now; their sister Lily is entirely gone.) One major character, who is secretly a villain and was included in much of the original show, is now barely on stage at all, making their big reveal feel a little wet.

And yet, among all the cuts, one scene has noticeably been added: in the second half, Albus takes Harry aside to inform his father that he will have to accept Scorpius as “the most important person in my life”, a declaration made with weighted urgency and one that his father benignly accepts. The original show was criticised for “queerbaiting” Albus and Scorpius, but director John Tiffany – who is gay – then said it “would not [have] been appropriate” to make the nature of their relationship any clearer.

Six years on, it is clear someone felt it was now appropriate. The sub is gone from the subtext; Scorpius’s female love interest in the original is now a platonic friend. Whether giving Harry a son who seems ever-so-slightly queer has anything to do with Rowling’s now public views on trans people, aired since the play debuted six years ago, is unknown and unlikely ever to be confirmed by anyone. Some wouldn’t even spot the change. What is inarguable is that someone thought the change was important.

Brady Dalton Richards, the queer actor playing Scorpius in the Broadway short-version, has said he feels it is his onerous responsibility to give this new representation of the story believability: “As a queer person, a gender non-conforming person, to be a visible voice, gives the gift of ‘anyone can be a part of this world’ — and that’s a responsibility, y’know, to be this open and visible force for inclusion and representation in presenting this newer version of the story.” I preferred “queer-baiting,” frankly, with its hetero-normative gestures at the end to what is obviously fan-servicing and capitulation to the Zeitgeist.

But I have only read the 2016 ‘Special Rehearsal Edition Script’ and never seen either version of the play (it hasn’t traveled to Oklahoma City, for one thing). Rather than make judgments about the play and the new version specifically, as I have done in admittedly careless fashion, a play which the Australian producer of the Melbourne Cursed Child claims that Rowling co-operated with Tiffany and Thorpe in revising and condensing during the UK Covid hysteria and lockdowns (see film clip above), when will serious readers of Rowling’s work, to include a play she didn’t write or re-write but had some part in crafting, have a chance to own a printed copy of the new play?

The play will almost certainly never have a traveling company or be performed by high school students for their Spring Drama credits. It’s much too expensive a production, one requiring remodeling of the theaters in which it is performed costing millions of dollars. That being said, the revised version of the play, having displaced the original in four of its six global venues, is the one most likely to be the accepted or most performed version. I hope Bloomsbury decides sooner or later that a second edition of Cursed Child with the updates and revisions is in order, maybe even before Christmas…

 

Comments

  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    A ‘Complete’ edition with both versions of the text one after the other might be a second edition of preference – with a discussion by JKR of her interactions with the playwrights at all stages, even better.

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