Before I start my review of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child today, I just want to say–I’m back! I’ve been off blogging for more than a month, but what with labwork and summer courses (microbiology, AIDS, and endocrinology), I’m surprised I’m still alive at this point. But I was alive enough to harpoon my way through the throngs at the Barnes and Noble midnight opening two days ago, and no way would I miss the opportunity to blog about this historic moment. So here we go!
Now regardless of all the positive or negative things that I’m about to say about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I just want to let it be known–I’m actually very happy about this release.
Which is a lot more than what I could’ve said about it six months ago (for reasons you can read about here). I initially had a feeling that I would totally hate this play, but I changed my mind once I took into consideration that this play was a jointly written production. In that, I feel like this play was to be a creative outlet for J.K. Rowling, rather than a serious undertaking for her. Therefore, I’m not going to take this play too seriously either. I love Harry Potter, and Harry Potter is the butter to my bread–and who am I to refuse more butter?
So what was my initial reaction after reading this play? I like it. I’m not loving or worshiping it as I do the original series, but overall, I’d say it’s a solid 6.5 out of 10. There were some surprisingly good elements to it while at times there were some cheesy elements that makes it feel like fan fiction.
(SPOILERS AHEAD! DIVERT YOUR EYES IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT YET!)
For instance, Draco and Harry’s sons becoming best friends was something that entertained Potterheads’ minds over all these years, and it became a reality in this play. And while I don’t oppose this at all, I was just a tad disappointed that Albus and Scorpio’s friendship wasn’t developed in more depth. I mean, how fun and interesting would it have been if Scorpio and Albus had started out really prejudiced towards one another? I feel like this would’ve made for a much more compelling story if these two had actually had had to overcome their differences in their road to becoming friends–but alas, this didn’t happen.
On the other hand, Harry and Draco do put aside their enmity thanks to their sons’ friendship, and that’s one resolution that I liked a lot since those seeds of friendship had been sown during the course of the original series, but had never fully realized until now.
But some moments here felt out of character at times. I mean, wow did Draco REALLY mellow out: “I’m sorry about your kitchen, Ginny.” Since when was he on first-name basis with her? And since when does he apologize for anything? Haha it’s a nitpick, but I guess that’s where you see evidence that J.K. Rowling wasn’t the only writer of this play.
Now who guessed that Delphi was the main antagonist of the story? She was a red flag to me as soon as she encouraged Albus and Scorpio to save Cedric. I mean, someone who’s supposedly a nurse and in a position of responsibility would NEVER encourage two kids to break into the Ministry, let alone steal something, so that set the alarm bells off immediately for me. But (SERIOUS SPOILER) never would I have guessed that she was Voldemort’s daughter!
And that’s where my real criticism starts. I didn’t really dig this whole “Voldemort had a daughter” twist at all because it feels like fan-fiction territory to me. And while I’m not saying that Voldemort’s incapable of having sex with Bellatrix or whatever, he just doesn’t come across as someone who would have sexual thoughts in the first place when he’s so obsessed with gaining immortality. I feel like he would’ve considered sexual instincts to be below him so….yeah, I was weirded out about this aspect.
Another plot device I didn’t like was the time-turner paradox. DAMN YOU TIME TURNER PLOT CRUTCH!!!!! I mean, weren’t all the time-turners destroyed during Harry’s fifth year? So how the hell did Nott make one? And why didn’t he utilize it to ruin Harry’s life before it was confiscated? Furthermore, didn’t the books show that changing time is not really possible? During Book 3 when Harry and Hermione were saving Buckbeak and Sirius, the past was being changed in tandem with the future, so what you saw was what you got. So if Cedric died, and Harry witnessed him die for sure, then he’s dead right? There’s no way to “save” Cedric, right?
Furthermore, Cedric becoming a Death Eater who kills Neville Longbottom was a result of the time-turner paradox that totally failed for me. I mean, from what we’ve seen of Cedric, he was an exceptionally fair human being, and he was NOT one to utterly change his morals and murder someone just because he was humiliated. Therefore, Cedric becoming a Death Eater was one of the craziest plot twists in this play to me.
UNLESS….Cedric was turned into a vampire!!!! He probably would’ve had some compatible conversations with Fenrir Greyback, who was likely the one who recruited him into the Dark Side, right?
Oh, Twilight jokes. Don’t deny it, you love ’em too. But really, if there’s anything about this play that disappointed me, it’s the fact that this Time-turner twist was so heavily relied upon. By continually rehashing events from Harry’s past instead of offering more events from his present, the play doomed itself to feel more like fan fiction than an actual new endeavor.
And just let it be known! I do understand that the whole point of this time-turning thing was to help Albus understand his father better. But at the same time, it just feels like a cop-out character development to me. I mean, considering that time travel is a luxury most people don’t have (people can’t just turn back the clock to learn about their parents for heaven’s sake!), Albus’ maturation as a result of time travel felt a bit forced and incomplete to me.
But despite these negatives, therewere a lot of good things about this play that I liked. I already mentioned that I liked how Harry and Draco (kinda) became friends. Hermione being promoted as Minister of Magic was also an altogether unexpected but pleasant surprise. Furthermore, I thought the cameos of McGonagall were great because she really grounded the fact that Harry, Ron, and Hermione used to be her students–it’s a nice reminder because the trio often felt estranged as their adult selves, but they’re still kids in the face of Professor McGonagall’s wrath.
And the feels! I felt twinges of sadness when Harry mentioned that Aunt Petunia had died, and it was very bittersweet in the maze when Albus tells Cedric how much Amos loves him before he walks away to his death that night. And I especially felt inspired by Dumbledore all over again when his portrait tells Harry that it’s the fate of all humans to suffer (it’s very true) but muddling through it is the challenge to bear. Wise in life, wise in death, wise in painting….that’s Albus Dumbledore for you.
So bottom line, I consider this a sweet and entertaining play about Harry’s life 19 years later. Sure, it feels like fan service, but I can’t say that’s an entirely bad thing. Despite a few cheesy, cliche, and out-of-character moments here and there, the entire time I was reading the script, I could actually imagine this being a really fun play to watch, and that’s ultimately the pro and con of this release. The script doesn’t translate well at all on paper, but if you imagine it as a play while you’re reading it, you can actually begin to appreciate the ambitiousness of it all.
Therefore as a hardcore Potterhead, I’m glad to have the chance to relive my childhood through this play and I’d love to watch it live when I have the chance. And considering that there was nothing about this play that “ruined” my love of the original series for me, I totally recommend giving it a go.
And with that, we’re done. Long live Harry Potter and fellow Potterheads!
By the way, do you know what event I would’ve changed if I had that Time Turner? Saved Hedwig. Sure, Dumbledore, Sirius, Lupin, Snape, Fred–there’s heaps of people we’d love to save, but those revivals might have consequences. However, if I’d whooshed Hedwig out of danger and kept her alive until after the Battle of Hogwarts before giving her back to Harry….that’s one time-travel event I can’t see going wrong:)