The West End play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be a sequel, following on from the epilogue to the seventh book, which sees Harry, Ron and Hermione’s own children heading to Hogwarts.
The eponymous cursed child is revealed to be Albus Severus Potter, Harry and Ginny’s son. The original epilogue centres around Albus, or Al, as he nervously leaves for school for the first time on the Hogwarts Express. The full synopsis released by the play’s creative team on Pottermore explains:
“It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
“While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.”
This suggests that the play will continue some of the concerns of the epilogue, which describes an anxious Albus. Worried he will be sorted in to Slytherin, the Hogwarts house notorious for producing wizards with dark tendencies, he turns to his father for advice:
“What if I’m in Slytherin?”
The whisper was for his father alone, and Harry knew that only the moment of departure could have forced Albus to reveal how great and sincere that fear was.
Harry crouched down so that Albus’;s face was slightly above his own. Alone of Harry’s three children, Albus had inherited Lily’s eyes.
“Albus Severus,” Harry said quietly, so that nobody but Ginny could hear, and she was tactful enough to pretend to be waving to rose, who was now on the train, “you were named for two headmasters of Hogwarts. One of them was a Slytherin and he was probably the bravest man I ever knew.”
“But just say–”
“–then Slytherin House will have gained an excellent student, won’t it? It doesn’t matter to us, Al. But if it matters to you, you’ll be able to choose Gryffindor over Slytherin. The Sorting Hat takes your choice into account.”
“It did for me,” said Harry.
He had never told any of his children that before, and he saw the wonder in Albus’s face when he said it.
By choosing to focus on Albus and the potential for “darkness” that may lie inside him, it seems the play will explore some of the series’ most overarching themes of inheritance, free will versus fate, the possibility to choose a life of good or evil, and the power of familial love.
A reporter for the Daily Mail adds, “When I asked if there would be any flashbacks to Harry’s own parents, Friedman said, more bluntly: ‘It’s for theatregoers and fans, and we’re not going to say any more about the story.’”
The poster, which was unveiled for the first time today, describes the play as “the eighth story” set “nineteen years later”.
Back in June, fans speculated that the new play would pick up where the epilogue left off. At the time the new play was announced, Rowling noted that Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone was released 18 years ago to the day, and that the new play would be released next year: 19 years later. “19 Years Later”, of course, is also the name of the final Harry Potter chapter.
The new play is partly written by Jack Thorne, who has a history of writing sensitively about teenagers and young adults in difficult or lonely situations. He told the Telegraph last year: “I tended to be the nerdy kid stood at the back, watching other people having fun. You just plug into what that felt like.” He acknowledged that “loneliness and isolation” are themes he returns to again and again: “There tends to be a weird lonely boy, or girl, at the centre of the story somewhere.”
The play, which will premiere at London’s West End Palace Theatre next summer, will be shown in two halves: theatregoers can either watch in two consecutive evenings, or on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays in the space of a full day. Ticketing information has also been realeased. Ticket prices range from £10 to £65 for each half. Full information is available here.