Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a two-part play currently running in London’s West End. Though I have not (yet) had the pleasure of seeing the show, I recently read the script written by Jack Thorne based on a story he created with J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany.
The script was published by Arthur A. Levine Books in 2016. Though its reception has been largely positive — it won the 2016 Goodreads Choice Award for Best Fantasy — some fans of Rowling’s original series have criticized certain plot points and characterizations and do not want to accept it as canon.
I grew up with the Harry Potter series and love it dearly, so I empathize with those who disliked the play and agree with them on certain issues. But before I get into that…
Scorpius. Freaking. Malfoy. He’s such a wonderful little person. He’s kind and chilled-out and loyal and everything his father and grandfather were not. I love what Thorne & Co. did with him.
In fact, he reminded me most of the character Thorne & Co. royally screwed up, which brings me to…
Ron Weasley. The Ron Weasley of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is more the Ron of the films than the Ron of the books. For those unfamiliar with the common grievances of the Harry Potter fandom, readers resent the movies’ portrayal of Ron for many reasons.
In short, the films erase Ron’s role as the level-headed, protective, and witty boy who stands up for Harry and Hermione when they get into trouble, calms them when they are angry or scared, and eases tension with his dry humor. Perhaps to emphasize Harry and Hermione as the leading male and female characters, the filmmakers gave many of his best lines and moments to Hermione, turning her into a Mary-Sue and leaving him out in the cold. With his best qualities heavily watered down, he became the butt of jokes instead of the brave and loyal jokester.
In my opinion, Thorne makes a similar mistake with Ron’s character. Though Thorne’s Ron is more light-hearted than movie-Ron, he’s still useless and funny in a goofy, bumbling way instead of a dry and witty one. He’s made into the stereotypical lame old white dad, resembling his father Arthur more than he resembles himself. Perhaps that was intentional, but I found it disappointing.
I can’t really compare the other characters and relationships in The Cursed Child to the rest of the canon without divulging some major spoilers. But aside from one relationship and some small issues with Amos Diggory, I think the rest of the characters are fairly loyal to the original series.
I want to give the show the benefit of the doubt when it comes to plot holes. Some of the issues fans have raised may exist because The Cursed Child was written for theatre; they may be more forgivable when watched than they are when read . When one sees a play, one cares about how it looks, how it sounds, how the actors make them feel — not just the plot. Those moments that seem awkward on the page could seem perfectly natural when viewed with proper visual effects.
The production won a record-breaking nine Olivier Awards for — get ready — Best Set, Sound, Lighting, and Costume Design, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actor and Actress in Supporting Roles, and finally, Best New Play. If you give any credence to those sorts of things, it must be pretty incredible. So — if I can get my hands on a ticket — I plan on giving the show a chance, and I hope other semi-skeptical Potterheads will too.
3/5 stars. (What does this mean?)
Have you read or seen Harry Potter and the Cursed Child? What did you think?