The Cursed Child is what you get when you take Harry Potter and combine it with Once Upon a Time and a dash of BBC’s Merlin. It’s entertaining and compelling and like the TV-show Once Upon a Time it’s kind of a trainwreck – in the best way possible. When I say trainwreck I mean there’s a lot of plotholes and treatment of characters that just didn’t line up to Rowling’s stories. The scriptwriter mostly got the style of dialogue for the characters right, but I felt he didn’t know what they were really about. Therefore most of the original characters are mere shadows of their book companions. They took one character trait from most of them and enlarged that and made it more dramatic. Then again, this is theatre. What works on stage is different than what works on paper. The Cursed Child is meant to give Harry Potter fans a wild ride like a rollercoaster. It’s great fun, but you might not want to look around too much or you’ll ruin your enjoyment.
I expected to hate this, but I don’t. I just can’t accept this as canon Harry Potter, because it’s too different from the original. In theory things might seem the same, but this reads like a soap opera. There’s plotholes, flaws and things that contradict the original series. But there’s also heartfelt moments that make you see Hogwarts and Harry’s past in a different light. I like that they’ve shown that Hogwarts is not paradise on earth for all students. I loved that Albus was very much the same as his father but still made very different choices and clearly has a different life than Harry does.
I also loved Scorpius’ and Albus’ ‘friendship’ and banter. In ways this friendship might be even deeper than Ron and Harry. It reminds me of Arthur and Merlin from the BBC-show Merlin where a pair of faithed best friends go on all sorts of adventures. Speaking about Scorpius he was perfect. One of the biggest flaws of the Harry Potter series is making it look like all Slytherins are evil. With Scorpius and Albus it does set things right. I love how geeky and goofy they were. Seriously, Scorpius has some amazing dialogue. I have to say I laughed out loud in occasions.
Another character done right is Draco. It’s clear from the get-go that he doesn’t visit Harry’s place all the time to drink tea with him. They’re still frenemies in a way and I like that. I’m also grateful about Draco not making the same mistakes as his father did. He’s actually a very loving and caring father.
But for all the good characters there’s bound to be some bad ones. There’s the professor from the original series that everyone either loves or hates that’s not his snarky self and there’s Delphi (did I mention this being a soap opera). And then there’s characters like Hermione and Ron that don’t feel like versions of themselves no matter what timeline. But I’m willing to let that last point go. Maybe it’s like reading something on WhatsApp where the text just doesn’t come across like it’s supposed to. But when did having a job at the ministery mean nothing? All the adults that work there do nothing but look for their children at places or just hang out at home! J.K Rowling always made sure the plot aligned with the daily activities of the characters.
If you would ask me what I wanted from a Harry Potter play I’d say I wanted to experience magical moments at Hogwarts with new characters in new settings. I was quite excited to see what Harry’s children would be up to because I like hearing about other perspectives of the well crafted wizarding world. I would also mention something about the political themes and social commentary that was always very apparant in the series. Even if all the books were about an orphan boy and his magical adventures it was never a question that there were more adult things going on in that world. Researchers say the Harry Potter series teaches people certain values like accepting people for who they are and not where they come from. The play embodies nothing of that rich world Rowling created. There’s no reading in between the lines. In fact the adult characters aren’t worried about politics and other adult matters. They’re only there to play the role they were assigned. The plot doesn’t move organically, things happen and people do something because the plot demands them to.
However I think the people that came up with The Cursed Child wanted to make a play that would let people relive Harry’s magic from a different perspective. They were looking for something for all ages. With laughs and giggles, but also dramatic turns and twists that are bizarre, but would have people sit at the edge of their seat. Visually this must be stunning. With all the different locations, times and even a little use of polyjuice potion I’m wondering how they can pull that off on stage. But knowing that they must have found a way I’m getting excited just thinking about it. The set must be phenomonal and magical. Harry Potter doesn’t have to be serious like Hamilton and Les Miserables. Even though Once Upon a Time is not a very well written show in my opinion, I still liked it. And this script felt exactly like what Once’s take on The Boy Who Lived would be. I mean, Harry Potter as a soap opera does sound amazing. I just can’t help wondering if Rowling is okay with this adaption of her story.
In the end I liked reading this. Sometimes I enjoyed it because it was so over the top that it got funny. Odette and I read this as a buddyread. She was surprised to learn how much she loved this, despite all the critics. In fact while I thought this didn’t feel like the Harry Potter I know, she liked how much this reminded her of the original series. And that’s okay, too :).
The Cursed Child is a script by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne and J.K Rowling.