Why I’m relieved The Cursed Child isn’t a Harry Potter prequel

In J.K. Rowling's wizarding world, some things are infinitely more magical when left to the imagination, says Sarah Doran

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Since the day he arrived on our bookshelves, via Vernon and Petunia Dursley’s doorstep, Harry Potter’s tale of triumph has charmed millions of muggles across the globe, and left us yearning for even more magical adventures with the Boy Who Lived.

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So fascinating is his story, in fact, that even the characters within JK Rowling’s fictional wizarding world can’t help but scramble for details that might help explain his ability to defeat the Dark Lord, Voldemort. It’s little wonder then, that each new offering from Rowling is met with boundless enthusiasm, and new Harry Potter production The Cursed Child is no exception.

Much of the media and fan frenzy surrounding the West End production – due to debut in 2016 – has understandably centred on plot-line predictions. “It’s got to be a prequel” the masses roared in reaction to un-confirmed reports, and continued to do so long after Rowling repeatedly insisted that this quite simply wasn’t the case.

And thank heavens for that: some stories are infinitely more magical when they’re left to the imagination, for, in the author’s own words, in dreams we enter a world that is entirely our own.

Obsession with the idea of a Harry Potter prequel is nothing new: it’s been tabled for discussion ever since the young Mr Potter became privy to Severus Snape’s Occlumency-guarded memories and tear-stained professions of love for one Lily Evans via the pensive.

From the moment we first glimpsed James and Lily Potter’s teenage adventures through the green eyes of the orphaned son, our hunger for more tales has been all but sated by snippets of information about his doomed mum and dad.

And when we discovered that they were part of what appeared to be an unrequited love triangle involving Hogwarts’ prickly potions master, our fascination with the original Order of The Phoenix generation positively exploded.

“Curiosity is not a sin”, argues the great Albus Dumbledore, “but we should exercise caution with our curiosity, yes, indeed.” The wise words of the wizard ring true when taking our experience with the tale of Luke and Leia Skywalker’s parents into account.

Back in 1999 the prospect of watching Anakin Skywalker become Darth Vader against the backdrop of the rise of the Galactic Empire was a tempting one, filling fans of the Star Wars franchise with a new hope. And yet, 16 years later, it’s almost universally agreed that the tale was far more fascinating when left to the imagination.

Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala were more interesting and intriguing characters when their story was one we were free to take creative liberty with within the limits of our own proverbial mind palaces. There it could remain untarnished by terrible dialogue (“I’m haunted by the kiss that you never should have given me”) and unnecessarily complicated missing planet plot twists. 

So I, for one, am rather relieved to hear that Harry’s first on-stage venture (you’d be remiss to rule out the possibility of further productions following in its footsteps) will not be a prequel, for the best Lily and James Potter stories are the ones that are left to our imagination.

J.K Rowling has regularly insisted that she won’t be penning novels about Harry’s parents, easing eager fans’ disappointment by publishing snippets of their backstory on Pottermore instead and letting us, her readers, create the rest. Should she one day decide to do so, I’m sure many fans will celebrate.

And perhaps even I will find myself falling over my own feet to get to a bookshop and pick up a copy. After all, they do say “the best of us must sometimes eat our words”.

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Harry Potter and The Cursed Child opens at London’s Palace Theatre in summer 2016.


What is Harry Potter and The Cursed Child and how can you get tickets to see it?

JK Rowling really, REALLY doesn’t want you to think the new Harry Potter play is a prequel