As you, my dear friend and reader, probably know, I am a huge fan of Harry Potter. So, of course, when the newest book came out, I had to read it. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is actually the script for the two-part play (which just opened in London, England) that follows the events of the best-selling Harry Potter novel series. Specifically, it recounts the adventures of Harry Potter’s youngest son, Albus Severus, as he enters Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Shortly after this brand new tale was released, fans began to criticize the plot and characters as being “fanfiction-y”. My good friend and fellow Potterhead Elaine (who is a talented illustrator and an amazing gardener) and I had a frank, but also candid, discussion over instant messaging about how we felt about Cursed Child immediately after reading. You can find links to Elaine’s social media and read our edited conversation below.
Our Conversation on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child:
(Caution: Spoilers Ahead! #KeepTheSecrets)
Elaine: What did you think?!
Rose: I was disappointed. It wasn't in Rowling's voice and the characters seemed completely different from the novels. I mean, what's up with Ron? Plus, they focused on characters who weren't as interesting, like Amos Diggory, and completely forgot about all the other kids, like Teddy Lupin and Albus's siblings. Ugh, and the time traveling! Totally different from Prisoner of Azkaban's time travelling rules. And having Voldemort have a secret child that he didn't know about! That's the mark of bad storytelling. Totally jumped the shark.
E: Ahhhhh I agree but I still want to love it. I just finished it yesterday so I'm still processing. The Voldy baby was such a weird move. I didn't mind the rumour because people are ridiculous these days but having it be true was super weird.
R: I still would want to see it on stage
E: The way I explained Ron in my mind is that they've been having a relatively smooth life for the past twenty years so his joker side probably came out since he didn't have to worry about getting killed all the time. I actually loved the Ron and Hermione parts even though it wasn't like in the books haha. It did feel like fan fiction though.
R: Yeah. I thought Ron was supposed to be an Auror though. And the way that Harry talked to McGonagall at one point made me so mad. It seemed so out of character
E: OH YEAH! That's so weird!!!! What way did he talk to McGonagall?
R: When he demanded that she tell him if Albus and Scorpius were spending time together and basically tried to bully his own professor. I mean he Crucio-ed a Death Eater for disrespecting her in Deathly Hallows. I can't imagine Harry would ever talk to McGonagall like that or that she would allow herself to be bullied by him.
E: Harry as a grownup was weird in general. I was trying to excuse their weird characteristics with the fact that we haven't seen them for 20 years but it's still hard to wrap my head around.
R: Yeah. I guess we can't really expect him to be the same as he was as a teen but he seemed completely different. Nothing like his occasionally sassy self. He became kind of unlikeable. Such a stern dad.
E: Also! I thought there would be more to the story when it came to him saying he wishes Albus wasn't his son. He and Ginny kept giving each other significant looks but then never really fully explained it besides the obvious fact that Harry did not not have a father growing up.
R: Yeah. The story felt shallow at times.
E: I thought it was because Harry heard this prophecy but that was never connected or revealed to the audience/readers. I was happier yesterday after my first read but when we talk as true fans, I’m realizing things that make me angry and annoyed.
R: Yeah. Why IS it called the “Cursed Child” anyway?
E: Yeah! The parts where Dumbledore and Snape are touched by Harry naming his kid was weird, specifically Snape.
E: In my head I can imagine Snape being pissed off and I think that's funnier.
R: Haha. Time travel was a disappointment overall, I think. I was hoping for a new story focused on Harry's kids but then they just revisited Cedric and then Godric's Hollow... That was unnecessary. Those stories were closed.
E: Yeah, I agree. Although I liked knowing that in each alternate universe, Ron and Hermione belonged together. I know that's cheesy but there was so much doubt cast about the fate of Ron and Hermione with those JKR interviews that I worried about their future relationship.
E: The Ron and Hermione moments were the best parts! I would love to see it in play format too! I think that reading the script in play format definitely added to cheese factor - talking about hugging and vocalizing thoughts… it’s definitely not the same as reading a book.
R: I heard that it’s much better on stage and that they've done really good things in terms of costumes and special effects. Sidenote: I was rereading Shakespeare so I could teach one of my students and to compare his plays to this one is no comparison. Obviously Shakespeare did great things with language and it was a quite a feat to write in iambic pentameter but what really struck me were how his characters were so much more subtle and interesting even when they were simply vocalizing their thoughts and monologuing. Cursed Child read like it was for kids and not grown up Potter fans.
E: It's weird, HP felt like it was for everyone, but this feels like it was trying to be for adults because of the Voldy Love Child Conspiracy, but then the content was for little kids because there wasn't as much depth to it.
R: Yeah. Maybe it is because it is a play that won't have another sequel but the story was kind of everywhere and maybe it was hard to decide what to include. Although it is a two-part play...so I don't know.
E: Yeah, I wonder what they're gonna do next. I'm hoping for more of the detective series.
R: Mm! Yeah! We still have Fantastic Beasts to look forward to!
E: Hopefully that'll be good!