Before I really begin this review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I want to note that if you have not read it yet, there will be some spoilers in here. I will try to keep it as clear of them as possible, but I know that I will not be able to write this the way I want to without letting you in on a little bit of the story. Thus, if you want to go into this the way I did (which was knowing nothing about the plot, save for it was set 19 years after the series), I would recommend you turn away now. I managed to get through reading this without major spoilers, and it is only fair if I offer you that same choice.
I never thought I would be saying this. I think I may actually dislike Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. But I am not sure. I texted one of my best friends almost immediately after I finished and I was not sure. I had to include “think.” I still have to, frankly, because my mind is struggling with the idea of not thoroughly enjoying a Harry Potter story.
I wonder if part of my reaction to this is because I was reading the script rather than witnessing the play. I always found Shakespeare much more enjoyable when I saw stage productions rather than when I read the plays. With that said, however, I feel as if there should still be something more here.
I know that in addition to J.K. Rowling, there are two other people attached to the writing of this play: Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. Now, I am sure they are wonderful at the other things they do. But their words and influence here? I do not know. Something just does not sit right with me on this.
Overall, I found that the plot of this story and its presentation seemed to reflect some Harry Potter fan fiction I have seen out there. Of course, there are a few fan fictions out there that are quite good (although the books are still my favourite things). However, I find that most fan fictions are rife with unfortunate or clichéd plot lines and less than satisfactory presentation.
Let’s take the villain in The Cursed Child as an example. I found that it came off as clichéd, particularly given the rumours about Scorpius and his parents. I imagine that the idea itself could be interesting if someone were to write it well, but I did not feel any connection here. In fact, I did not feel a connection with any of the new characters (including those we only met in the epilogue of Deathly Hallows). I feel like that may be a fault of the play format itself. Yes, there were some introductions, but I think I would have felt the connection much better had this been a true novel. I had to base my knowledge from the book series (and much on the epilogue alone). This led to a lot of confusion. Why, for instance, is there such a strain with Albus but everything seems right with James, Lily, et cetera?
I would mention Teddy here but that is another question. Where was he? There was no mention and considering everything we know about Teddy, Harry, Remus, and the story, I would imagine he would have made some kind of appearance, even if it was only a mention.
Working from the books, I found that a number of the characters I knew seemed…out of character at times. Specifically, I found issues with Ron and even Harry. Hermione, I think, was quite on point. Now, the moments with Ron (like the jokes and such) are good when they are trickled in, but the play made them seem over the top in my opinion. In the case of Harry, I just felt as if he was forgetting things and people and seemed…off. There is a specific moment I have in mind, featuring him, Ginny, and McGonagall, but I do not want to reveal all right now. If you have read the book (or seen the play) what did you think? My thoughts basically boil down to Harry being…almost Big Brother-like? I mean, he is a parent now, but I do not believe the Harry I know from the books would go there.
I think as soon as the epilogue mentioned Albus being afraid of being sorted into Slytherin, I knew that is where he would end up, particularly after Harry’s words to him. Speaking of those words, I felt as if that signified a good relationship—not what they presented us with in Cursed Child. Regardless, I actually liked this placement. After all, I have done the Sorting on Pottermore five times, and although I am a proud Hufflepuff (and always will be) I was sorted into Slytherin once and I know that part can come out sometimes. Not all Slytherins are bad (clearly Scorpius is an example of that).
Out of everything, Scorpius was my favourite. Sure, some things seemed a little over the top, but I actually really enjoyed his character. That side of this story is what intrigued me the most, particularly his mother Astoria. Could I have more of that in book form? I mean like the book series, not a written version of a play. Alternatively, I would love to hear more on Pottermore, because the stories there are amazing.
While I did not enjoy the plot, it did provide a particularly tugging scene. It appears near the very end of Part Two of the play and boy did I feel for Harry. I think that was probably one of the shining moments the plot brought. Well, I say shining, but maybe that is not the right word. It stood out in a good way, at least.
In the end I know there are a couple of good points in The Cursed Child. However, I am left with a disconnect, questions, and a want for something different. As I write this, I feel as if I am trying to convince myself of something I am quite resistant to and yet want to believe in. I could probably dissect each and every little thin in the script (I am sorely tempted to frankly) until I am blue in the face from trying to figure this out. At this point, I think I need to put the book down for a while and read it again in the future to see if I feel the same way a second time around. We will see.
If you have read it, what did you think? I would love to hear your thoughts! Maybe we can figure things out together.
If you have not read it yet and are still reading…I would still say you should give this a try, if only to form your own opinion. I do not know if I will be in the minority or the majority with my thoughts, but I know people will have very different opinions.
In any case, I look forward to hearing from all of you!
Title: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Parts One & Two)
Author: J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic)