Harry and the Dursleys

There are plenty of things that are extremely satisfying about J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise, her bestselling seven-book series that spawned no less than eight of the most popular movies of all time, but there’s one thing that most fans of the series can generally agree on as being one of the most satisfying: that young Harry ends the series with his own, wonderful, loving, magical family.

Let’s back up here a moment, in case you’re in need of a refresher (or, God forbid, you’re not familiar with Harry, which seems impossible at this point). When we first meet young Harry, he’s an orphan forced to live under the stairs at his aunt and uncle’s house. His aunt and uncle Dursley are not exactly nice people, to the point that they’re basically emotionally abusing him (and they’re certainly not magical), and his cousin Dudley is one hell of a bully. They’re duds, and the time that Harry spends living with them before being all but rescued by Hagrid and taken to Hogwarts to hone his magical talents and yes, sniff sniff, to meet the friends who will become his family, is a terrible, horrible time.

So why would anyone want to see a production that focuses on Harry’s early years?

Entertainment Weekly reports that Rowling is now working on a new production – a stage play – about Harry’s pre-Hogwarts years, one that will “explore the previously untold story of Harry’s early years as an orphan and outcast.” Doesn’t that sound like just the most depressing thing you could possibly imagine?

Over at Cinema Blend, Harry Potter superfan Kelly West does unspool a few plot points that make this idea sound at least somewhat tolerable, reminding us of a few somewhat magical happenings that occurred before Harry was fully aware of his abilities. As West writes, “From what we know of Harry’s youth, strange, seemingly inexplicable things did happen to him when he was little. For example, his Aunt Petunia tried to cut his hair and it all grew back overnight. When she tried to force him to wear an ugly sweater, the thing shrunk until it was way too small to wear. And then there was the time Dudley and his gang were chasing Harry and he somehow ended up on a chimney. Harry may not have known he was a wizard until Hagrid told him, but magic has always been a part of his life.”

There are certainly some stories to explore here, but are they worth it? What is there to be gained by digging back into Harry’s past? Are fans supposed to feel more sorry for the magical kiddo?

Of course, this new play isn’t the only recent addition to the Potter-verse, even if it is the most emotionally upsetting. Back in September, news broke that Rowling was going to pen a script based on her Harry Potter guidebook “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” which could lead to more films within the Potter-verse. Also popular is Pottermore.com, an online experience that puts players within the world of Potter. But both of these spinoffs are, well, fun, whereas this play prequel sounds like it will have to be, at least partially, kind of dark and depressing.

Rowling will not be writing the play herself, but she will be collaborating with an as-yet-unnamed writer and director and she will serve as a producer alongside Sonia Friedman and Colin Callender.

Do you want to see this prequel?


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