Thoughts: Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

If you’re a Harry Potter fan then, by all means, read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I really enjoyed it, couldn’t put it down!  However, you have to remember that you are reading the script of a play. This is not a Harry Potter book, and if that’s what you are expecting you might be disappointed. We Harry Potter fans are accustomed to the specific type of storytelling and writing that we experienced throughout the Harry Potter series.
J. K. Rowling was always very detailed in the way she wrote about the wizarding world, the main characters, and even the minor characters. Don’t expect that level of detail with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child because, I repeat, it is not a Harry Potter book, it’s the script of a play.

*** Spoilers***

HP and the Cursed child focuses on Albus, Harry’s younger son, and Scorpius, Draco’s only son (and only child). Albus and Scorpius are able to be friends because Albus is, in some ways, a lot like Harry, but Scorpius is almost nothing like Draco. Harry’s son and Draco’s son becoming best friends? I did not see that coming. But it does make sense.
Both boys have the heavy past of their famous fathers weighing on them, they know that everyone is watching them, they feel the pressure of expectations, and they each feel like they have disappointed their father. In other words, Albus and Scorpius have a lot in common, they understand each other. For various reasons they become outcasts at Hogwarts so all they have is one another. They need each other. Friendship was one of the main themes in all of the HP books so it was nice to see that emphasized again in this new story.

Another main theme of this new story is that changing even the smallest detail of the past can have disastrous consequences. Albus sets out on a mission to change a major event in Harry’s past- the death of Cedric Diggory. Albus overhears a conversation about the existence of a time turner that can take witches and wizards not only hours back in time, like Hermione did, but years back in time. Albus drags the reluctant Scorpius along for the ride.

A powerful time turner? Overhearing conversations? Friends and adventure?
Oh, so this is a Harry Potter story! Yes. While this may not be Harry Potter storytelling as we know it, HP and the Cursed Child does have some quintessential HP elements. That was really cool to get to experience again. There are surprises and magic; wands and spells, magical artifacts, and- in this story- a bewitched man-eating library! (Hermione, obviously.) As I read the script I kept wondering How in the world can they pull this off in a play on stage? We’re talking some serious theatre technology.

So, as I was saying, Albus sets out to go back in time and prevent Cedric’s death, but each time Albus and Scorpius make even the smallest change to the past they end up in a drastically changed future, a future that is far worse than the life they were already living. This was, for me, the most brilliant part of the play/story. Several key, and perhaps favorite, Harry potter moments from the original books are revisited. Then, in addition to that treat, we are treated to glimpses of alternate future realities.
What would the wizarding world have become if Harry had not survived and defeated Voldemort? What if Cedric Diggory had lived, but had been humiliatingly defeated in the Triwizard tournament? What if Ron hadn’t got jealous when Hermione went to the Yule Ball with Viktor Krum? These are just a few examples of how events, big and small, can largely impact individuals and the future.

Another treat in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is that we get some more time with our old friends- Harry, Hermione, Ron, Ginny, Professor Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, Moaning Myrtle, even Draco. The invisibility cloak makes an appearance too, as well as Pepper Imps and Chocolate Frogs- Albus’s favorite. The reader gets to know Albus and Scorpius really well, but not the other Weasley or Potter children, which was disappointing. Rose, Ron and Hermione’s daughter, plays a small part. We get the gist of her personality- ambitious and somewhat intense, just like her mother. (Which I really liked.) Ron and Hermione’s son Hugo is hardly even mentioned. Harry and Ginny’s son, James, and daughter, Lily, make brief appearances, but that’s it.
This is where the play differs from the books the most. If this were a HP book, Rose, Hugo, James, and Lily would have played much more significant roles; they would have been fleshed out, well developed, and, I’m sure, lovable characters. We also would have seen Neville and Luna, and more of Hagrid.

As I mentioned above, Albus and Scorpius experience several different alternate realities or possible futures. And that’s what I felt like the play was- one possible continuation of the Harry Potter story, but it doesn’t feel real and solid the way the original series did. This is obviously because it wasn’t a Harry Potter book- you can’t do in a play what you can do in a novel. It just isn’t the same, and it isn’t meant to be. But If J.K. Rowling were to take the story in this play and turn it into a full-blown Harry Potter book then maybe it would feel like the true continuation of the Harry Potter (or wizarding world) story.

With that said, I should clarify again that I did really like the story- plenty of adventure, suspense, mystery, and magic. The best part for me was getting to be around magic again, and catching up with Harry and Hermione. I also liked that Professor McGonagall had such a big part in the play, she was always one of my favorites. I wouldn’t change much about the story itself, I just want it in book form so more detail can be included! However, there are two things I might change. First, Ron.
Ron’s character in the play is more like the Ron of the first few novels- blundering and awkward and not exactly the equal of those around him. He didn’t have much of a role in the play. He makes several appearances but he seems to be there more for comic relief. I was disappointed in this the most. (It was worse than Harry’s son being sorted into Slytherin house!) By the end of the final Harry Potter book Ron had experienced a lot of growth. He was more skilled and showed a lot more courage and bravery than what he did in the first books, but in the play all of this is taken away and he seems to be right back where he started. I didn’t like that. I don’t think he needs to regress quite that much, he deserves better.
The other thing I would change is Albus being sorted into Slytherin house. I just don’t think it fits. I realize that a good story needs to have conflict, but I think that was satisfied with Harry’s and Draco’s sons becoming best friends and being Hogwarts outcasts. The only way I wouldn’t change Albus Potter being sorted into Slytherin is if a really good philosophic or prophetic reason could be given to explain how or why he’s in Slytherin house. Any house but Slytherin! And with there being such a focus on Cedric Diggory I think it would fit the story really well if Albus and Scorpius were to be sorted into his house- Hufflepuff.
Hufflepuff House of Hogwarts: The Adventures of Albus and Scorpius. You see! Now that’s the beginning of a great story!