Like many other Potter devotees, I was saddened upon completing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows, the seventh and final of the Harry Potter series written by J.K. Rowling. Sad, but content nonetheless; the same as I would feel after finishing a good meal or sitting silently under a tree. The series had come to an end, the characters were set in my mind forever, and I had, with tender loving care, placed all seven books on my bookshelf for safekeeping.
I spent six years Potter obsessing. Biding my time until the next book was written, staying up past three in the morning at book release parties at Barnes & Noble, just waiting to get ahold of the latest novel. When I was finally in possession of said novel, I would fly through the pages in a manner of days, entirely in love with the wizarding world and all of the characters I’d come to know so well. Naturally, when the series came to an end, I felt a sense of, what could only be described as, loss, and I was thrilled upon learning that J.K. Rowling was in the midst of writing an 8th Harry Potter book.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: what one needs to understand before they delve into this book is that it is not a book at all, but rather, a two-part play written byJack Thorne, based on an original story by J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany, which premiered at the Palace Theatre in London.
Although the idea of a Harry Potter play never struck me as a particularly good one, so much as it did a moderately dangerous one, I did have faith in J.K. Rowling’s creative abilities. She had, after all, written seven of the best books I have ever read and created the world in which, I believe, each of us would choose to live if given the chance— who hasn’t envied the ability of flight by means of broomstick or wished to cast spells with a wand? A Harry Potter play, albite a bit odd, could not be too horrendous if Rowling was involved.
I suppose we are all wrong from time to time.
We are given the script of the play, and it is nothing short of disastrous. The plot is weak, the characters are poorly developed, the scenes are uncomfortably choppy— starting and stopping in odd places— and the dialogue is entirely unbelievable.
At first, I gave the play the benefit of the doubt. I continued reading; surely it would get better if I proceeded to turn the pages. It only became worse, as though the writers had simply gotten lazy, run out of ideas, and given up at the end, resulting in verbal vomit; a complete and utter cop-out. The scenes and characters lack any flavor and by the end of the play I was merely reading to see just how ridiculous the plot was capable of becoming.
The characters are vexing. The depiction of them in the play has entirely ruined any and all perception of them in the books, which is quite a shame since Rowling spent so many years developing such sturdy, admirable, lovably flawed characters. Harry is mean, Ginny is weak (well, she’s always been a weak and unmemorable character in my book, but still …) and their children are just as irritating. Albus, James and Lily – Harry and Ginny’s children— are not impressive. In fact, after the first few scenes, James and Lily disappear altogether.
The Potter family is on a sugar-free diet, Harry and Ginny argue quite a bit, and Albus, the protagonist of the play, is a sullen, temperamental, brat, fed up with being the son of the famous Harry Potter. The entire play focuses on relationships between Fathers and their children, particularly that of Harry and Albus. Harry, head of magical law enforcement, takes the on the persona of a beat down cop, forty years old and just as stubborn as ever. Albus is in Slytherin, he’s horrible at Quidditch, and he absolutely despises Hogwarts, the complete opposite of his Father, which sets the scene for the main events to unfold.
Albus is followed around by his loyal dog, Scorpius, child of Draco Malfoy (ah, but of course). Unlike his father— the cold, pure-blooded, hilariously devilish Draco Malfoy— Scorpius is a dorky, ridiculously kind child who possesses all of the same characteristics as Harry’s best mates, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.
Speaking of Ron and Hermione, the couple has their fair share of flaws as well. Ron has rather gotten the short end of the stick as far as character development is concerned. The funny, charming boy who developed into a strong, intelligent man by the end of the seventh book, is portrayed in the play as a bumbling fool, incapable of even tying his own shoelaces. I suppose he is meant to be the comic relief, but between the idiotic jokes and the inability to keep a grip on his masculinity, Ron comes off as a weak, dunce. I found myself imploring him to shut his mouth every time he bothered to open it, a task which his domineering wife, Hermione Granger-Weasley, was all too happy to tell him to do. Hermione is Minister of Magic and rather … well, annoying. Like her husband, she is also a weak character, not entirely needed in the play at all, but rather put there for old time’s sake.
The only other adult character who truly got as much limelight as Harry Potter was Draco Malfoy, suddenly a cuddly, teddy-bear of a man, whom Harry grows to like quite a lot. The two even become friends. In fact, everyone’s chummy with Malfoy by the end of the play. Malfoy proclaims that he “rather enjoys being bossed around by Hermione Granger” and then Hermione “smiles at him”. The tragedy, the shame …
Back to Albus and Scorpius. The two boys get in a heap of trouble upon meeting Delphini, a luscious twenty-year-old witch who takes a somewhat uncomfortable interest in the friends. She wishes to use an illegal time turner to go back and rescue her supposed cousin, Cedric Diggory (quite random …) though I assume we all remember who he is. In order to break into the Ministry of Magic, the trio takes a Polyjuice potion and transform into Ron (Albus), Harry (Scorpius), and Hermione (Delphini). There’s an awkward kissing scene between Harry (Scorpius) and his aunt, the real Hermione, as they struggle to distract her from their plot, and then the three imposters manage to steal the time-turner and escape rather easily. Everything falls to pieces when they travel through time and space, into alternate universes, where they experience what life could be if time were altered even but a fraction of a bit.
One of the most irritating parts of the play was having the beloved Severus Snape brought back to life. My heart dropped as I read about his soft heart and “sense of humor”. He is quite friendly with alternate universe Hermione and Ron, both wanted criminals, who die tragic deaths kissing one another as Dementors suck out their souls. Once again, Snape plays the hero and sacrifices himself for the sake of others, a plot that’s been done before, and perfectly so in the books. However, this portrayal of Snape is a pure fanfiction nightmare and has successfully decapitated any respect I held for the character.
The biggest surprise in the entire play was the fact that Voldemort has a daughter. Yes, Lord Voldemort—the Dark Lord, his Lordship, the snake-man who killed for pure pleasure all throughout the books—has a daughter. Interesting concept, though I find it hard to believe that a man who split his soul seven times would be interested in having intercourse. Having a child made him too human, and I am not sure what message the writers were trying to convey except maybe the idea that “we are all human”.
This play soiled my perception of the Harry Potter wizarding world, and the characters within it. This is not the writing that one would expect of J.K. Rowling and I find it hard to believe that she could authorize, let alone assist in writing, such a play. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is pure, shameless fanfiction written by hormonal teenaged girls; just one too many ideas taken from SnitchSeeker orPotterMore.
This is merely my impression of the play and I implore each of you to form your own opinions and share your thoughts.