- Page Count: 343
- Release Date: July 31, 2016
- My Rating: 2 stars
Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a new play by Jack Thorne, is the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. It will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on 30th July 2016
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband, and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes darkness comes from unexpected places.
“How many people have died for the Boy Who Lived?”
ALL MAJOR SPOILERS ARE HIDDEN.
I actually went into this with very few expectations so that I’d enjoy whatever this turned out to be. I mean, I like scripts. Harry Potter is my life. We’re good. So I tried not to compare this to the HP books or look at it as an intense fan, but it’s pretty underwhelming no matter how you approach it.
The story picks up at the end of the Deathly Hallows epilogue where Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Malfoy are seeing their kids leave on the Hogwarts Express. It’s the first year of Hogwarts for Albus Severus Potter, Rose Granger-Weasley, and Scorpius Malfoy. Albus sucks at quidditch and turns out to be a very average wizard. The kid’s pretty sulky about being compared to his father and has a chip on his shoulder the size of Grawp. His best/only friend Scorpius is dealing with rumors that Draco used a time turner and Scorpius is actually the son of Voldemort, so both kids are kind of outcasts. I’ll explain the plot below in the spoiler bracket, but it’s basically the wizarding version of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
I think this was a risky undertaking because so much of the Harry Potter fandom already has an idea of either what happens after the epilogue (through fanfiction or their own ideas), or else they already said goodbye to the characters and wrapped everything up. I was mostly just looking forward to just seeing some familiar faces and places again, but was kind of let down in that regard.
The plot seemed to be a string of events that producers thought were the highlights of the series, rather than the sort of touching everyday scenes that makes Harry Potter what it is. I wanted to see the kids at Hogwarts playing quidditch, going to class, eating, or just interacting. Instead this play is a breakneck pace of: polyjuice potion! ministry infiltration! angst! timeturners! triwizard tournament flashbacks! is Voldemort back?! WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING?
By 6% of the way through the story Albus is already in his fourth year at school. So there really wasn’t a lot at Hogwarts or much in the way of an actual fun “Harry Potter” type story. There were a million directions this story could’ve gone in and it did feel like they tried to do too much with the little time they had.
So Harry’s scar starts hurting and the basic plot is:
It’s just a string of WTF on every level. Like if you’re going to go that crazy with the story, why not have Snape go back to the orphanage and kill Tom Riddle as a kid like that youtube video did??!
In the end it felt more like a roundup of characters and events they thought fans would want to see instead of a true, original Hogwarts story for Albus Severus and Scorpius. I really didn’t need any villain associated with Voldemort… that’s old news. That whole story has come to a close and there should be a way to revisit this world without needing to go back to rehash the past.
I was also a bit disappointed that the characters in this all have the personalities of their movie versions. Ron is a bit of a bumbling idiot (who didn’t remember much of his own wedding because he was so drunk), Ginny is still missing part of her personality (and doesn’t let Harry eat sugar?), and Harry just wasn’t Harry. So I adapted to that and just treated the play like it was an extension of the movies. But a lot of the dialogue still felt less like what the characters (or anyone) would actually say and more like some canned line set up to get a laugh out of the audience. Even Moaning Myrtle seemed completely out of character.
But can I please gush about Draco and Scorpius Malfoy for one moment? They TOTALLY stole the show here. Scorpius is this straight up adorable geek. He’s more of a follower than a leader (according to his father). And Draco’s character was by far the most realistic out of any of the adults. He was totally Malfoy!! And I LOVED seeing his reflections on how the trio’s fame impacted everyone’s future — his character alone strengthened this entire story so, so much. I just wanted to see the characters I knew and be able to connect with something so that was nice. This scene right here about how “Tom Riddle didn’t emerge from his dark place” was my favorite:
And I did enjoy how the story managed to give more explanation from Dumbledore in defense of his actions (via a talking painting), *attempted* to give Snape a stronger character, and basically addressed a lot of fan’s questions or criticism throughout the years.
In the end I was expecting to say that no matter what happened it was fun to just see this world and the characters again, but… I’m really not sure. It felt more like really bad, messy fanfiction? I’m still giving it 2.5 stars because the Malfoys completely redeemed everything!
But it’s like the end of Deathly Hallows should have been The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.* The play clears up that NOW it’s well and that Harry’s scar is done hurting NOW… which is silly because that story is done. Leave it be. They could have done literally anything else here and I’m not convinced JK Rowling had much to do with it.