Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child [2016]

I know I’m a little bit late to the party, but here it is…my thoughts on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child! I thought it might be nice to let the dust settle around this one before I threw my hat into the ring. My review is going to focus on the development of character for the most part, because I think it is rather difficult to talk about much else without having seen the play as it is meant to be seen!

the cursed child

First up and one of the best parts of the script, is the relationship between Albus and Harry. Their relationship was a joy to read because it was realistic. It would have been entirely irritating for Harry to move seamlessly through adult life, and I could completely understand Albus and his difficulty adapting to life as Harry Potter’s son. Kids are cruel, and their awe for Harry himself doesn’t stop them from bullying Albus mercilessly. The same applies for Scorpius, who is a welcome friend and comfort in the novel – I particularly enjoyed his scene as the Scorpion King. I think almost everyone has pinpointed and praised this dynamic so I won’t go into it too far, but the representation of the power of friendship echoes the original Harry Potter series and I think that is important.

A character that I was a little more conflicted about was Rose. I wished there was more of Rose so that we could see her development, her drives and her feelings as she treats Albus in the way she does. Instead, she just seemed like a bit of a bitch. She’s young so we can forgive her, and I like that her and Albus are not automatically friends because of her parents, but I wish we could have seen a little more from her perspective: perhaps a scene of her with her friends, or a soliloquy. This would have been a very welcome insight before Rose begins to change her attitude towards Albus and Scorpius. I think she had the potential to be a fantastic, funny character but this wasn’t realised.  And from the conflicted to the downright disappointing: Ron. Unfortunately Ron became a bit of a joke character, which is a real shame because the way Rowling constructed his character was at once beautifully raw and comedic. I feel like he lost his identity and unique flaws completely.

I don’t want to make this review too negative because I really did enjoy the script, but I’m struggling to find much to say about the plot which was essentially pointless for the first three quarters of the novel. The circling around in time to feature old characters and provide a bit of entertainment worked well, but it was just that: entertaining and nothing else. The final confrontation, revelation etcetera did at last provide some drama and saved it for me (As you might expect from a play, the beginning is largely setting up context and introducing character). However I don’t hold these points against the script, because I think onstage as a proper performance this wouldn’t be the case at all.

To compare Cursed Child to the rest of the series is very difficult. In fact I had to completely disconnect it from the other novels in order to enjoy it, as it reads like light-hearted fanfiction rather than a serious continuation of the series. Overall I enjoyed ‘Cursed Child’ as a quick, relaxed foray back into the lives of the characters that I adored for my entire childhood and my shortcomings will in no way prevent me from going to see the play onstage if I get the chance. A script is never going to match up to seeing the performance properly, where stage tricks and the introductions of different, old-loved characters would be far more exciting.

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