Passionate fans aren’t happy with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the new play that (we’re promised) concludes the story of The Boy Who Lived.
The script is a collaboration between J.K. Rowling, playwright Jack Thorne, and Cursed Child’s director John Tiffany, with the magic being brought to life at the Palace Theatre in London’s West End. The script’s release was timed to coincide with the play’s opening, and naturally it has become a publishing sensation.
Unfortunately, some Muggles didn’t realize that Cursed Child is not a new novel, or a novelization of the play, but a play. Oops.
The action is set 19 years after Harry and pals defeated Lord Voldemort. It revolves around Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy’s quest to go back in time to save Cedric Diggory. Why? Because the teenage Albus doesn’t get along with dad Harry, that’s why.
This immediately throws up problems, because time travel in Rowling’s universe has previously been a closed casual loop that can’t affect future events.
It’s surprising that Harry and Albus don’t see eye to eye – in the epilogue to Deathly Hallows Harry seemed very attuned to his son. Other students harassing the boy because of his famous dad is pretty believable, but again, I’m left wondering: does Hogwarts have any anti-bullying policies at all?!
Albus has been sorted into Slytherin with Scorpius, who has his own troubles. It is rumoured that his dad, Draco is firing squibs, so his frail mother Astoria time-traveled to get knocked up by Lord Voldemort instead.
Harry doesn’t approve of the the boys’ friendship, which feels slightly unHarry, and more Ron – who is of course married to Hermione, now Minister for Magic.
Albus and Scorpius get their hands on a time turner. Thanks to some encouragement from Cedric Diggory’s cousin Delphi Diggory, the pair go back to the Triwizard Tournament to stop Cedric from getting killed by Voldemort.
They succeed, only to discover that changing events means the future they return to is altered. Albus is now in Gryffindor and Hermione is a bitter, unmarried Hogwarts teacher.
The boys go back again to put things right, but only make things worse. They usher in a future where Voldy won and Umbridge is headteacher at Hogwarts. Harry Potter is dead, thus no Albus. Scorpius is in this mess all on his own.
This is the second act of the play, which sees the return of Snape, still teaching potions and still undercover. He is joined by Ron and Hermione, who are hiding as fugitives. Thanks to their help, Scorpius is able to put things right and go home.
This is where the play’s biggest twist occurs: Delphi is Voldemort’s daughter with Bellatrix Lestrange. She wanted the boys to change history so that she wouldn’t have to be an orphan. Only now does she realize that entrusting her plan to two confused adolescents wasn’t the best idea.
A lot of fans balk at the thought of Voldemort and Bellatrix having a relationship, but seriously – Voldemort got rid of his nose, not his….er, other appendages. As for Bellatrix’s husband, I guess he would have had to be OK with it really, unless he wanted to die in a duel with his evil overlord.
I’m not completely against a Voldebaby, but it feels awkwardly conceived. And just maybe that child didn’t need to go bad. Poor Delphi feels shortchanged. Like her father she grew up orphaned, unloved – and is irredeemable.
As if poor Harry hasn’t suffered enough, the play has him and the gang (plus Draco) save the day again, forcing Harry to relive his parents’ deaths. Meanwhile, the memory of noble Cedric is corrupted – could humiliation really make him angry enough at the Wizarding World that he would become a Death Eater?
Cursed Child is as funny as Rowling’s novels, but a script-book is no compensation for the magic glow of a new novel. At least in its current form, it can easily be ignored by fans who don’t consider the storyline canon. Seeing Harry, Ron and Hermione portrayed by a trio of real actors is worth the hassle and the cost of a ticket.