Warning: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Spoilers Ahead
It’s been well over a month since the two-part play was released, so we assume you’ve all read it by now. Chime in with your responses in the comments!
I have just emerged, face-first from my copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, much like young Harry is seen emerging from his escapes into the Pensive – and what a slip into the past it has been!
The Cursed Child is everything I expected it to be – and somehow, nothing like I expected it to be. I expected magic, backstories, teary reunions, and I received it in aplenty.
What I wasn’t expecting was to be wowed by central characters of a Harry Potter saga, who are not the golden trio of Potter-Weasley-Granger. Sure enough, there is a Potter, but there is also a Malfoy. A Malfoy as a central character? Must be a villain. The Potter-Malfoy duo are our protagonists – heroic, young and risk-taking protagonists, much like their successors.
The Boy Who Lived is shown to be grappling with his parenting duties, struggling to be not Harry Potter to his son, but a father who loves his boy very much. As the generation that grew up reading/watching the Harry Potter series, it is a strange sensation to think of the bespectacled boy as a father. It seems like only yesterday that I turned the last page of The Deathly Hallows, and felt a cloud of darkness (perhaps, a dementor) over me.
With this book, magic did make a return, if not at the expected scale. Friendship, love and sacrifice all continue to be central themes of the play, albeit the writing style and emotional appeal saw significant changes.
I was quite worried I might not like it at all; after all, the original tale has set some very high standards, but I was wholly satisfied with the climax and the ending.
While reading the play, I kept recalling the faces of all the actors from the films (Radcliffe, Grint, Watson, Felton, etc), so the play might be a strange experience, but I look forward to watching it once it is online.
An Alternative Take: Hate It
Regular HP fans will find themselves immersed in nostalgia as favourites like Snape and Dumbledore make appearances, yet the play shows less of Rowling’s restraint in writing [the British way] – where hugs are scanty and long feel-y conversations rare.
Not deeply layered or fully formed like the plots of the 7-part saga, The Cursed Child lacked in imagination and complexity. To me, using a time-turner as the thread that ties the plot seemed like a fake-out.
The central problem of Albus’ issues with Harry never boil up to the surface or come to a crescendo – they lull and are never explained. While the character of Scorpius is endearing and comical, you don’t find yourself instantly attached to the protagonist: Albus Severus Potter.
You’ll be faced with dialogues that are quite out of character, all the while thinking “He would never say that!”. For instance, no matter how soft fatherhood has made the malicious Malfoy, it seems a trying stretch of the imagination to see him confess his envy to Potter. It feels strange to have Potter confront Dumbledore after decades, for not being there (bit late, we think).
Wrought with dramatic, emotional and borderline cheesy material, written for the stage, I’m afraid it might make all the sense when performed live, but, in writing, fails to make an impression.
Not like that’s going to keep you from buying the book and diving in eyes-first, so go ahead, ride the wave of nostalgia, but be warned: it’s not a Hawaii shore kind of wave, more like a ripple in the water.
P.S: The Internet seems to be quite spoiler-free when it comes to this book; I am quite unsure why. Did Suicide Squad steal all the thunder? Have people really stopped reading?