Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

hp 5I was Harry’s age when I picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. I grew up with the boy wizard, so reading a story about his adulthood was bittersweet. Of course, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child focused on the Golden Trio’s children more than the original characters themselves. But the sense of nostalgia still seeps through every page of the play. That nostalgia boosts the script, but I wonder if the story could have stood on its own two feet otherwise.

Cedric Diggory’s death haunts Cursed Child, and much of the play focuses on different ways Harry’s story might have ended. The new play captures the imaginations of old fans, but at times it’s a double-edged sword. I’ve spent years imagining the future of the wizarding world, and I know many others have too. If I don’t like how something turned out for one of my favorites, there has to be something new to hold onto. That’s where the new kids on the block come in.

Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy lead the new cast of characters, and they’re both delightful. Albus is as brooding and rebellious as Harry was in his teenage years, but his reasons are the opposite. Scorpius, meanwhile, is much softer and sweeter than the Draco we remember. Their friendship and respective dynamics with their fathers make up the crux of the drama. While both are compelling narratives, the story distinctly lacked a female perspective.

Hermione remains strong and level-headed in the face of chaos, but Ginny barely speaks. That shouldn’t be a problem, because this is a story about their children. Except Hermione’s daughter Rose barely factors into the plot, and Ginny’s daughter Lily is a footnote. Rose is full of spunk and spirit, but she’s acted upon more often than she acts herself.

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Ron, Hermione, and Rose Weasley-Granger

Worse, Scorpius’s darling personality was largely shaped by Draco’s wife, Astoria Malfoy – who never appears onstage. Some of the most compelling scenes involve discussions of her, but she has not a word to say. The only major female character is Delphi Diggory, but she’s more a mystery than she is a person. Harry Potter gave us an excellent heroine in Hermione, but the new generation leaves women out. Perhaps that’s because J.K. Rowling only conceived the story and not the script. Either way, it’s a shame.

Those personal grievances aside, I still enjoyed the play immensely. The dialogue was fresh and the humor was vintage Rowling, and scenes rarely dragged. Jack Thorne scattered various easter eggs throughout, sure to entice die-hard Harry Potter fans like me. The climax even managed to recreate the same sense of foreboding from previous showdowns, even if experience taught me what to expect.

Even if you end up hating the story and deriding it as fanfiction, it’s still a play you’ll want to experience for yourself. And since I can’t travel to London for the stage production, I’m glad Rowling released the rehearsal script for us muggles. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child brought my favorite characters, their triumph and insecurities, back to life one last time. And, even better, it provided me with new characters to love and imagine a future for. That in and of itself is magical.