Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: A magical let down

By in Culture

Like many University of Saskatchewan students, I grew up reading — and let’s be honest, worshipping — the Harry Potter series. I always wished I could read the series over again for the first time to experience the excitement, the adventure and the emotion with reading each book. So naturally, I was beyond excited when I heard the eighth installment, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, was on its way.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was written by Jack Thorne, a screenwriter and playwright from Briton, England, whose notable work includes the film A Long Way Down and TV series Glue and The Fades. The play is based on the original story that was developed by Thorne, the play’s director John Tiffany and the legend herself, Ms. J.K. Rowling.

I wish I could say I enjoyed reading the play, I really, really do ­— and maybe I’m only going to go in circles comparing the play to the series, but how could I not? After sitting down for a couple of hours and reading the play cover to cover, I was left thoroughly and completely disappointed, and here’s why —spoiler alert!

Harry Potter - Jeremy Britz
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child receives mixed reviews from both fans and critics.

I was so excited to catchup with the characters I hadn’t seen in so long — how they’ve grown, what they are like, what their jobs are, if they have partnered, if they have kids — you know, all the standard questions.

Instead, I was forced to read about characters like Amos Diggory — who, no offence, I don’t particularly care about. What about the Weasley’s — Molly, Arthur and George ­— or Luna Lovegood and Neville Longbottom? Sure, names were mentioned, but not much more — and where in the world was Teddy Lupin?

For the characters that were included, none of them seemed to be acting like themselves. I get it, people change over time, but what was with Harry being a complete dud to Professor McGonagall and a horrible dad? Maybe it was because the dialogue was so unnatural that the characters didn’t seem like themselves? Who knows — either way, no fan wants to hear Harry Potter tell his son he doesn’t want him.

One of the things that bothered me most about the play was the reappearance of Severus Snape. Snape’s storyline in the original series was fundamental, heavy and emotional, and for it to so carelessly break in this play felt like the power of it was negated.

Hearing Snape speak so casually of everything he had done and what had happened to him, and that he knew it would happen, took away the integrity of his character and the original plot line — as if none of it really held any significance or any power anyways. I find this ironic, because to me it was one of the most powerful plot lines, as he was a character both before and after his death.

On a lighter and less death-related note, we have to talk about the trolley witch. Throughout the whole book series she’s this kind, innocent old lady who hands out yummy snacks to children on the Hogwarts Express. Next thing you know, the Pumpkin Pasties turn out to be grenades, and she is literally throwing Pumpkin Pasty grenades to block children from getting off the train.

Next weird thing — Voldemort had a child. That’s right, Lord Voldemort, the darkest and most feared wizard of all time, had a child. Better yet, the mother of the child was Bellatrix Lestrange. We knew she was Voldemort’s most devoted and faithful servant, but wow, just … wow.

If you want to read a play that feels like a poorly written fan-fiction, where characters time travel every two minutes even though there isn’t supposed to be any time-turners left, and where they pack just enough dramatic moments into one page that they lose all significance, and where Ron Weasley is for some unknown reason running his brothers’ Joke Shop — then Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is for you.

Bridget Morrison / Culture Editor

Photo: Jeremy Britz / Photo Editor