Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was released on July 31, 2016 and is the final story in the Harry Potter series. While J.K. Rowling had said that she wouldn’t write anything else after the seventh book, this story eventually came about. It is in the format of a script and is meant to be performed as a play. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is currently playing at the Palace Theatre in London, England.
I have to admit that when I first heard about this play, I was sure that it was going to be some kind of hoax. J.K. Rowling had said repeatedly that she had no plans to write any more stories about Harry and his friends. As it would turn out, she did write another, just with the help of John Tiffany and Jack Thorne and in the form of a play rather than a novel.
It didn’t take me long to read through this because of the format. The dialogue moves quickly and there isn’t a lot of action written. That’s to be expected of a script but it does lose something without the benefits of paragraphs of description.
My verdict? This was a pretty “just okay” story for me. I have been a huge Potter fan since the first day I picked up the books. This didn’t feel like Harry Potter to me. While J.K. Rowling did have some input, it didn’t really feel like it was her writing at all. Like many reviewers have already mentioned, this felt more like a fan fiction than anything written by the original author.
I won’t say that the entire script is completely off, but it definitely has it’s moments. The strangest thing for me was the trolley lady, and I still don’t quite understand what that was about. It is completely random and sort of comes out of nowhere. It is almost as if one of the writers turned to J.K. Rowling and asked if they could make the trolley lady some sort of crazed guard of the train and she just shrugged and said “why not?”. Also, the entire premise of Voldemort having a daughter seems pretty out there as well. He was always sort of portrayed as a sexless creature in the books. I don’t even want to try to figure out how him having a biological child was even physically possible.
There are a lot of Harry Potter fan fiction tropes that are written into the Cursed Child. During the entire play, there seems to be some hint of sexual tension between Scorpius and Albus. There is also the hinted-at future romance between Scorpius and Rose, which has quite the following in the fan fiction circles. Also, it does sort of pander to some fans of a Draco and Hermione pairing.
It’s pretty clear from the tone and writing style that J.K. Rowling’s input into this was fairly minimal. I get the impression that while she may have helped with the play in enough ways to give her a writing credit, it’s obviously not her that did most of the writing.
The Golden Trio
The three main characters all had a slight tone of being out of character for the entire play. Most of the dialogue didn’t quite match up to the same characters from the book series. While that could be explained away by aging and maturing (or whatever you might call it in Ron’s case), it still seems just a touch off.
The relationship between Harry and Albus seems to give Harry a completely different personality. Some of the things he says doesn’t make any sense for the character. I don’t know if the playwright was trying to make it seem like Harry is still affected by Voldemort all these years later or if it was just bad writing.
Hermione also is out of character. She is now the Minister for Magic but seems to just let people walk over her. There is a scene in which she is holding a meeting about Voldemort and she lets people interrupt her and basically take over the meeting. That, to me, is not Hermione at all.
Ron comes across as a complete buffoon with very little involvement in the entire story. His greatest moment only takes place in an alternate future where Harry is killed during the Battle of Hogwarts. He stays with Hermione as they are killed by dementors. That is it. There really isn’t any other moment where Ron seems like Ron in the entire play. I still question how Hermione doesn’t think Ron isn’t himself when she catches Albus polyjuiced as him.
While the children aren’t exactly new characters, in the sense that we were introduced to them in the epilogue of the final book, we do get a sort of introduction to them. I didn’t find any of the characters in this play all that well developed. The dialogue doesn’t particularly bring out any real aspects of any of the new characters to give the reader a true picture of these characters. In the end, it is pretty lackluster in terms of character development. This play focuses more on the plot than the characters.
For one of the main characters, Albus is flat. It comes across that he is a sullen teenage who is unable to get along with and understand his father. While this is somewhat understandable given that Harry is famous and there is a lot to live up to, he still is just very resentful of it all. Their relationship is strained and there is very little attempt at any sort of understanding between the two.
Scorpius is probably the best developed new character, but in a very strange way. His character is the complete opposite of his father, which doesn’t jive well with what we know about Draco. While he grew from the spoiled boy he used to be, Draco should still be a proud and a little prejudiced. It’s hard to completely change who one is and what they have grown up learning. In this play, Draco still shows these features in some ways, but the fact that his son is almost a complete 180 of his personality seems unrealistic. In fact, I would say that Scorpius may most resemble Hermione in terms of personality. He is bookish and nerdy. He even has a moment with Hermione in which they both quote Hogwarts: A History.
The villain in this play is Delphi. Delphi is obviously the cursed child referred to in the title of the play. She first is introduced as the niece of Amos Diggory and uses that position to influence Albus and then Scorpius into doing her bidding. Delphi was given some kind of prophecy that she would somehow help bring about the return of her father, Voldemort. She manipulates the two boys into going back into time and preventing the death of Cedric Diggory.
Delphi’s motives are clear and make perfect sense for any character in her position. The character herself is what doesn’t make a lot of sense. As mentioned above, the entire idea of Voldemort having a daughter is the stuff of fan fiction. It doesn’t fit with his characterization in the books at all. Why would he worry about having an heir if he was under the assumption that once he killed Harry, he would live forever. There was no need for him to produce an heir in his mind.
While the character feels a little on the weak side, I think that was kind of the point. Magically, she is strong, but as a person, she is incredibly weak. The way she grew up and what she was essentially born for limits her as a person. Had she grown up as a normal child, her personality and entire being may have been stronger, but that’s not why she exists.
The entire plot of this play is so cliche, I almost want to cry. When time travel is used in nearly every story, someone is always trying to change the past to make the future better, but ends up making things worse. This story is no different. Then, not only do they do this once, they do it a second time and make things even worse. The whole thing just sort of feels random and maybe not thought out all that well. I felt like there were a lot of things that needed to coincidentally happen in order for the plot and villain’s plan to work (such as Albus overhearing Harry’s conversation with Amos Diggory). I suppose the same could be said for some things in the original series, but it didn’t seem as obvious as it is in the play.
In the end, I am giving Harry Potter and the Cursed Child a 3/5 because while it does fail in capturing the same feel of the original Harry Potter series, I feel like this could be an amazing play done by the right people. Some of the missing pieces in the script could very easily be acted and portrayed on the stage. If I ever get the chance to be in London while this is playing, I would definitely see it. If you look at it as a separate story from the books instead of a continuation, it can still be enjoyable.