We are the children, cursed with this stage play as the end of our beloved series, after asking for more Potter for years.
Be careful what you wish for…
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is our punishment.
“Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” – J.K. Rowling
Well, home doesn’t feel like home anymore because some of the family that lived there are missing, the rest are shells of what they used to be, the furniture is all rearranged, I don’t know where anything is in the cupboards, and the familiar smell has wafted out the windows.
“A book is a contract between reader and writer.” Cursed Child breaks that contract many times. Although, a few moments shine through.
***WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD***
The beginning started out fine and I was starting to get back into the world that I know so well. But, when the trolley lady from the Hogwarts Express started throwing grenade sweets at Albus and Scorpius…I knew this was not going to go well.
1. Time travel. Time travel is the center of the plot for this story. Which basically undoes the fabric of everything that the original series created (and then puts it back together). Everything that I loved in the original story was wiped away by a Time-Turner and two dumb kids who thought that resurrecting someone from 20 years in the past would have no effect on the future. Like, really?
2. Harry’s parenting. One of the most disappointing aspects of this story is Harry’s characterization. Harry does things in this story that he wouldn’t dream of doing. He becomes angry and controlling in ways that evoke more of Lucius Malfoy than his own father figures. After telling Albus Severus on Platform 9 & 3/4 that “the bravest man [he] ever knew” was in Slytherin, and it wouldn’t matter if he was in Slytherin too, he tells Albus he wishes he weren’t his son. He also bans him from seeing his only friend, when earlier, he was worried Albus was isolating himself at school. Harry’s most sacred value is friendship. This is the basis of the entire series before this play. But, Harry stands firm, pressuring Professor McGonagall to stalk his son by use of the Marauder’s Map, and insulting her in the process. He’s going to come down on McGonagall with the “full force of the Ministry?” COME ON. He’s not Dolores Umbridge, but he sure sounds like her. The Marauders would be appalled and so would Harry himself.
Because I don’t know this Harry Potter.
3. Where is Teddy Lupin? Or the other Weasleys? Or Luna? Why aren’t Albus and Scorpius concerned that they’ve also erased Hugo by meddling with time?
4. Delphi. Just…all of Delphi. Voldemort and Bellatrix had a daughter? That’s some fanfiction crap.
5. Harry having to witness his parents’ deaths. It’s just not right. I was actually disgusted.
6. A minor detail, but the attention paid to the adults not eating (or eating) sugar was too much. (I suspect Michelle Obama may have been involved.)
7. Albus Severus and Scorpius clearly felt more than friendship toward each other. If Scorpius “looks at his friend talking to a girl-and part of him likes it and part of him doesn’t,” and says things like, “If I had to choose a companion to be at the return of eternal darkness with, I’d choose you,” it’s not just a strong friendship. When Albus says, “You make me stronger-and when Dad forced us apart-without you-” and Scorpius responds, ” I didn’t like my life without you in it either,” it’s basically Romeo and Juliet. When Voldemort’s literal child can see that they “belong together,” you know it’s real. Denying that relationship was a disservice to both characters, and to the series for missing a chance at LGBTQ representation in the text.
8. Cedric Diggory, the Hufflepuff athlete-scholar prodigy, has an alternate timeline of becoming a DEATH EATER and MURDERING NEVILLE LONGBOTTOM, all because he got humiliated at the Triwizard Tournament. WHO? WHY? HOW? To say that Cedric, a prefect, who helped Harry solve the Second Task clue, who asked his friends not to wear their “Potter Stinks” badges out of respect for Harry, who immediately offered to replay a match after Dementors caused Harry to fall off his broom, who was one of the first to congratulate Harry on his new Firebolt, became a DEATH EATER?? I don’t find that plausible at all.
9. “Voldemort Day.”
10. The dialogue is cringe-worthy more than a few times. The kids sometimes sound like adults imitating kids.
These shining moments made Cursed Child not a complete waste:
1. Snape tells Scorpius to tell Albus Severus he’s proud Albus carries his name.
2. Hagrid’s little speech to Harry when he picked him up as a baby from Godric’s Hollow.
3. Hermione as Minister for Magic.
4. Hermione and Ron’s kids are Granger-Weasleys.
5. Draco Malfoy’s character development as a caring husband and parent.
And, of course:
I really wanted to like this story. As a lifelong Harry Potter fan, I uphold the ultimate respect for J.K. Rowling and the world she created. I am disappointed, but hopeful that I’ll get to see the live play and have the opportunity to give it another chance.
But my current dilemma?
Where on my bookshelf do I put Cursed Child? Because it definitely doesn’t belong with the rest of the series.