*Warning: this review features a LOT of Caps Lock and has a tendency to ramble. Buckle up*
Back in 2007, we all stumbled home from our midnight release parties and read the final Harry Potter book, racing against the sunrise, desperate to find out how it ended. We turned off our phones and chugged coffee, stopping only for reluctant bathroom breaks. Hours passed, and with three small words, the story that defined a generation ended: “All was well.”
Flash forward a decade. Turns out…all was not well.
For those of you who don’t know, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” is a play that takes place pretty much immediately after the epilogue from “The Deathly Hallows.” The play focuses on Harry’s youngest son, Albus Severus and his friendship with Scorpious Malfoy, son of Draco. The two bond over their struggles living under the shadows cast by their (in)famous fathers. Although not explicitly stated, I imagine they also both bonded over being saddled with those dumpster fire names. IS LIFE REALLY SO EASY, HARRY? YOU’RE GONNA NAME YOUR KID ALBUS SEVERUS?!? Yes, it has been 10 years and no, I’m still not over this. You done this kid wrong, Harry. How about Reubus Arthur Potter, you were named after the two men loved me without ulterior motives. Or Sirius Remus Potter, you were named for the uncles who would have loved to watch you grow up. But no, you’re going to go with Albus Severus? Cool.
Those of us who read the Harry Potter books as they came out must remember the brutal agony of waiting. Waiting the years between releases. A lot of us flocked to the internet. With no new Harry on the horizon, people wrote their own stories about him. I loved reading Hogwarts fanfiction. Some of it was terrible (I’m looking at you, Snape/Hermione shippers). Some of it was great. Most of it was boring. And that’s what “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” reminds me of-fanfiction-mediocre fanfiction, given a veneer of legitimacy.
This play was written by Jack Thorne. Although Rowling is credited with the story, I had a hard time seeing her hand in this play. These characters I knew and loved-Ron, Harry, and Hermione-all seemed like faint shadows of themselves, as if they were conjured with the Resurrection Stone. It’s like Thorne watched a couple of the movies and thought, “Yeah, I got this.” Harry is now an overworked Ministry official who is a stranger to his own son-something book Harry would never allow to happen. Ron helps run the family joke shop and he…tells jokes. That’s about all he does. Once again, I’ll shout it from the rooftops: JUSTICE FOR RON.
Hermione is now the Minister of Magic. That is legitimately awesome. I want a spin off where she just does magic politics. Just go full West Wing as she does walk and talks all around the wizarding world. SOMEONE MAKE THIS HAPPEN.
We are now at the point where it is impossible to talk about this play talking spoilers. So if you’re waiting to see the show…
As Albus enters his first year at Hogwarts, he’s plagued by his father’s legacy. Sorted into Slytherin, terrible at Quidditch, mediocre at magic, he becomes angry and withdrawn (so…a teenager, then?). After overhearing a conversation between Harry and Amos Diggory, Albus decides to go back in time and save Cedric Diggory. He and Scorpio steal a Time Turner to return to the Triwizard Tournament. IF THAT PLOT SOUNDS FAMILIAR, IT’S BECAUSE THEY DO ALMOST THE SAME THING IN THE HARRY POTTER MUSICAL YES THEY STOLE THIS PLOT FROM THE HARRY POTTER MUSICAL AND IF YOU HAVEN’T WATCHED THAT YET, CLOSE THIS REVIEW AND GET YE TO YOUTUBE.
Albus and Scorpious are joined by Delphi, a young woman claiming to be Amos Diggory’s niece. In fact she is Voldermort’s daughter. BTW, Voldermort and Bellatrix:
Every decision they make in the past affects their present. Some of those changes are ridiculous. Commiserations to Cedric Diggory. Yes they save his life, only to commit a flat-out character assassination, turning him from the kind and honest Hogwarts Champion to a Death Eater.
By the way, I could probably write an entire thesis on the feminism in Cursed Child. The original series featured all types of women-brainiacs, athletes, dreamers, mothers, psychopaths. No matter what kind of women they were, they were their own person. In this play, they fade like an old photograph. Ginny Weasley exists only for Harry to monologue at. And Hermione? My sweet, bucktoothed, DGAF feminist kween? Yeah, she’s the Minister of Magic, but she spends most of her time nagging Harry to do his damn job. And in an alternate reality, one where she and Ron don’t marry, she turns into an evil shrew, a lady Snape who torments Hogwarts students. Like, come on guys. Hermione is such a badass bitch that McGonagall petitioned the Ministry to give her a Time Turner when she was 13! So she could take extra classes! I love her and Ron together, but she would NOT turn into an evil monster because he married Padma Patil.
I don’t want to act like this play was terrible. It had a lot of good moments. Scorpious was adorable and totally hilarious. His friendship with Albus was heartwarming (even though I spent the whole play thinking the pair was so far in the closet they were practically in Narnia). Just from reading it, I can tell it would be amazing to see live.
To sum up: I liked revisiting this world, but the play was ultimately inconsequential. It was…nice. It was a quick, light read. But it wasn’t Harry Potter.
ALSO, MOANING MYRTLE’S FULL NAME IS MYRTLE ELIZABETH WARREN!!? WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS.