Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Based on an original story by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne
Written by Jack Thorne
THE GIST: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Jack Thorne’s look at the Wizarding World 19 years after the events of J.K. Rowling’s Deathly Hallows, is essentially Harry Potter fan fiction. However, that doesn’t take away from how fun it is for the most part.
RATING: 3.5/5 stars
WARNING: VERY SPOILER-Y
If you told me several years ago that there would be an eighth Harry Potter book, I’d laugh in your face (and cry). However, here I am in 2016 writing a review for the eighth Harry Potter book while sipping on a kiwi-avocado smoothie in a juice shop by my house.
(God, sorry, that last bit sounded pretentious.)
ANYWAY, one thing that I constantly have to remind myself is that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not a “book” in the traditional sense – it’s a stage play, and a crazy one at that, written by playwright/screenwriter Jack Thorne. Yes, J.K. Rowling did not write this. It’s based on a short story she conceptualized with Thorne and the play’s director, John Tiffany. This is incredibly important to remember going in.
While reading it, you will definitely notice that there is more left to be desired at times: the parts that would typically be filled with Rowling’s fun and beautiful descriptions are short lines of stage directions instead (and thank god they are to the point, unlike mine whenever I write plays). That being said, Cursed Child is definitely something many readers need to see live on stage in order to get the full experience (and Rowling has said this herself).
Now, let’s dig deeper into the play itself.
What is this play about?!
The play kicks off with the end of Deathly Hallows: 19 years later, at King’s Cross Station. Some dialogue from the epilogue is shifted around a bit, but for the most part, it is the same. Albus is worried that he would be sorted in to Slytherin, Harry tries to reassure him that everything will be okay, Ron is throwing jokes around everywhere (ah, good ol’ Won-Won), and James is a hilarious little s*it for just a little bit.
After hopping on the train to start their new lives as Hogwarts students, Albus and Rose Granger-Weasley both debate the politics of who to sit next to on the train. Albus honestly doesn’t care at all, while Rose says that this decision will impact him for the rest of his time at Hogwarts like it did their parents (FORESHADOWING?!).
Lo-and-behold, Albus and Rose stumble upon the cabin of little Scorpius Malfoy, who is rumored to be the son of Voldemort (yoinks) and meant to be avoided like the Black Plague. However, Albus waves off his cousin’s warnings and sits with Scorpius. The two of them start a beautiful, beautiful friendship (it’s so beautiful that I’m low-key tearing up while typing this).
Once they reach Hogwarts, Albus is sorted into Slytherin (I KNEW IT, AND I AM SO HAPPY), and he and Scorpius go through their first year being teased and gossiped about by some other very salty and #irrelevant eleven year-olds. The play fast forwards through the first two/three years of Albus’ time at Hogwarts, which is kind of a pity because that’s something I’d definitely like to read.
Albus is having a difficult time adjusting to living up to his two namesakes and the fact that his father is Harry Freakin’ Potter. Harry doesn’t seem to know what the heck he’s doing either: his middle child is a wildcard, unlike his other two progenies, Lily and James. Harry and Albus attempt to make amends throughout the years, but it all appears for naught because Harry doesn’t understand his kid (more on this later).
The night before Albus’ fourth year, Harry is visited by Amos Diggory, who demands that Harry bring his dead son, Cedric, back from the dead. Of course, everyone knows that if you try to bring someone back to life in the Wizarding World (or in any fantasy story, for that matter), shit goes down. So, naturally, Harry says no. Amos, angry, suggests that the Ministry of Magic use a Time Turner to bring Cedric back.
Albus, eavesdropping on the entire conversation, decides to find that Time Turner and save Cedric, with his best friend Scorpius and Amos’ mysterious niece, Delphi. After quite a few mishaps, we relieve scenes from The Goblet of Fire, and alternate universes (e.g. if Voldemort never died). The climax of the entire play is when we find out that Delphi is Voldemort’s daughter (like what) and she wants to tell her daddy to not kill baby Harry so that he will live and take over the Wizarding World. But, you know, you don’t fux with prophecies.
Yep. That’s what happens. Tons and tons of time traveling done by Harry and Draco’s sons, who nearly mess up the entire course of Wizarding history. I’m not going to delve way too much into the plot, because it’s something you have to read for yourself. It’s that crazy.
Most of the time, the play definitely reads like some crack AU (alternate universe) fan fiction. Trust me – I’ve been reading and writing fan fiction since I was 10. Things like “Voldemort Day” and the entire time travel premise, plus Voldemort having a kid with Bellatrix (YEAH) seems like something I would have written when I was in the sixth grade. I think I did write something vaguely similar, but probably purged it when it didn’t get enough reviews on fanfiction.net. Man, I purged a lot of fic from my first account (most of it High School Musical fic).
Overall, I enjoyed the play when I took it as fan fiction. It felt like some sort of drug-laced story written someone who doesn’t understand the basic rules of time travel (and really, really loves Snape). While crazy ridiculous at times, it was just a fun, lighthearted read and, frankly, an…interesting addition to the Harry Potter series.
However, I truly believe that the saving grace of the entire play is Scorpius Malfoy, and his relationship with Albus. Scorpius is the reason for the 3.5 instead of the 3/5 stars for this review. He’s one of the most well-written, three dimensional characters in the show. I feel that he’s both Albus’ foil and compliment – Albus is moody, a la Harry in Order of the Phoenix, and Scorpius balances him out. I’m sad there won’t be any more stories about them, because I just want to read more about their escapades.
I do feel that this is something that has to be viewed, rather than read. I’m sure seeing it theatrically would round out the entire story and J.K. Rowling herself attests to this. I hope I get to see the play in the future, because, damn, I need to see my #sons, Scorpius and Albus, living and breathing on stage. Plus, the show itself has some crazy good reviews (#magiconstage).
I’d still read this play again for the heck of it. I loved the ridiculousness, the predictability, and the characters. I’m thankful for this last opportunity to step into Harry’s world.
PROS & CONS:
(PRO) Hermione Freakin’ Granger, Minister for Magic | My queen in her rightful position.
(PRO) Reading about Draco vs. Harry as Dads | Scorpius was hidden for the most part because of the crazy rumors about his parentage, while Albus was thrust into the spotlight because of his parentage. Draco appears to have followed his own mother’s lead by giving Scorpius a very sheltered life, while Harry seems unable to compromise his own trauma with his present in order to understand the burden his son currently has. I loved picking at the two relationships and seeing two of my favorite literary characters all grown up and dealing with the impact of their childhoods on their kids.
- (CON TO THIS) – Harry attempting to separate Scorpius and Albus. Don’t do this to me, fam.
(CON) F***ing Delphini Riddle | That’s it. Hated her. You’d think Voldemort would have better things to do than create a progeny with Bellatrix Lestrange (RIGHT LMAO). She kinda reminded me of what would happen if Blanche from Pokemon Go ended up evil. But that’s an insult to Blanche. Sorry Blanche. #GoTeamMystic
(PRO) Dumbledore and Harry | Later in the play, while figuring out what the hell he’s going to do to save his son from the clutches of Delphi Riddle, Harry converses with Dumbledore’s painting. It humanizes his former mentor and headmaster, and made me cry a lot.
(SORT OF A CON, SORT OF A PRO) Scorpius & Albus = Friends? Or…? | Yeah, this is definitely more of a pro and con. A lot of the time, a few of my friends and I definitely thought that Albus and Scorpius were going to get together at the end. However, there was a sort of random establishment of future Scorpius/Rose at the very end that seemed sort of tacked on (trust, I did a double-take). I am glad that Scorpius & Albus’ friendship was, for the most part, written beautifully, though – the two of them truly care for one another and are unafraid to show affection. But was there quite a bit of queerbaiting? Yeah. Yikes.
(CON) Scorpius, The “Scorpion King”| LMAO SCORPION KING I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE but I love Scorpius overall.
(CON) WHERE IS TEDDY LUPIN | He was the kid I cared most about when I first read the Nineteen Years Later epilogue. HE IS HARRY’S GODSON. WHERE WAS HE?! I wrote some stupid fic about him when I was 12 and sad that the series was “over”. I NEED MORE TEDDY AND VICTOIRE.
And that’s it! Thanks for reading my sort of long-winded review. I might update this periodically when I remember things. If you’d like to discuss this further, let me know in the comments below or Tweet me at @whaleesi!