In-universe, 19 years have passed since the defeat of the Dark Lord Voldemort at the hands of Harry Potter, The Boy Who Lived. Out of universe, it’s more close to a decade since the final “Harry Potter” book “The Deathly Hallows” first filled bookshelves (and if you’re being thorough, since the last movie installment hit theaters in 2011). The thing is, that’s how long since Potter-verse fans have last been immersed in the wonderful if danger-filled Wizarding World crafted by the brilliant mind of JK Rowling.
And while a movie “prequel” of sorts is in the offing later this year, bigger buzz is expected from an official chronological sequel, presented as a two-part London West End stage play, from an original story by Rowling with John Tiffany and playwright Jack Thorne, who is writing the script. Its opening night was on Saturday July 30 at the Palace Theatre, and the printed script was released a day later, July 31 – birthday of both the heroic wizard (36 fictional years old) and his literary creator (51 real world years).
For bookshops in Britain, there’s a sense of déjà vu from the 2007 release of the “Deathly Hallows” book. How so? C|Net says the play’s printed script was the most preordered book this year. The Telegraph reports midnight opening sales with the requisite campers dressed in wizard hats and robes and armed with wands. Twitter of course is replete with exclamations of nostalgia and excitement for the printed script, which is identified as the “Special Rehearsal Edition”, based on how the play was originally performed, with revisions to be done as it goes according to audience reaction. Another script version with any changes that stick, the so-called “Definitive Collector’s Edition”, is expected to be released on 2017.
London bookseller Waterstones has already racked up six-figure preorders of the script. For no lesser reason does it managing director James Daunt describe Rowling as the “Patron Saint of Bookshops” for the sheer star power of any “Harry Potter” publication. Waterstones in fact anticipated the surge of costumed customers and held a fancy dress competition, with the winner being place first in line to but the book. As volumes flew off the shelves, more Potter-fans brought a festive Hogwarts atmosphere to the proceedings by playing (non-flying) Quidditch while they waited their turn to buy.
As for reviews, the printed script had the unique privilege of being read shortly after its online release by 10-year old prodigy speed-reader Toby L’Estrange (no relation to the evil witch from the books), who finished it off in a magical 59 minutes and gave it a 6/10 rating. The play itself is already racking up raves from major critics; The Telegraph awarded it 5 stars. Rowling herself has been thankful to audience and readers for keeping the story spoilers under wraps, as “Cursed Child” features a shocking plot twist in the middle of its narrative that cements its place as a part of the Potter universe.
Photo Credit to www.rappler.com