Wands out over Harry Potter & the Cursed Child

Point counterpoint review of the half-blood sibling to the Harry Potter series - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

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There’s new magic in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

        VS.      Harry Potter and the Chamber of Plot Holes   

Warning, this article contains spoilers.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Plot Holes 

Catherine Ryoo

The more I think about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the more I find myself wishing I could obliviate myself into forgetting it ever happened.

It’s not for lack of trying or not loving the series enough, but no amount of childhood nostalgia could mask the rancid taste this script left behind.

Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is a new play written by Jack Thorne. J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany are credited alongside Thorne for the story. It picks up directly after the epilogue in book seven, and follows the adventures of Harry’s youngest son Albus.

Knowing that it was meant for the stage and not the page, I approached the script entirely willing to love it. Further, having been a theatre kid for the better part of my young adulthood, I know that an actor’s interpretation and nuances always flesh out a script. That said, The Cursed Child’s form can only excuse so many indiscretions. Staging and special effects cannot save this story.

The crux of the issue lies in the script’s use of the clichéd plot device, time travel, not once but four times to rehash old events and supervillains. By the play’s logic (or lack thereof), our favourite Gryffindors could have avoided an awful lot of camping and horcrux hunting had they just sent someone back in time to kill a young Tom Riddle.  

The script also claims a glaringly obvious deus ex machina; Malfoy conveniently owning a second, undamaged time turner would be laughable if it wasn’t so mortifying.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I bought into the nostalgia of it all — at least for the first act. However, with each passing line of dialogue, the script read more and more like glorified fanfiction, looking only to pander to diehard Potterheads.

The Cursed Child has some redeeming elements, introducing us to new characters who’re fresh and even endearing. There is never a dull moment in this revived Potterverse, but in exchange, the script is jam-packed with contrived plot devices inserted solely for shock value and to conform to the play’s limited stage time. I’m looking at you, Delphini.

In the same effort to be shocking rather than substantial, some of the saga’s most beloved witches and wizards (including its title protagonist) betray their novelized character portrayals. The mere suggestion that Cedric Diggory for instance, the epitome of Hufflepuff goodwill and pure heartedness, could become a Death Eater following a little public humiliation is ludicrous. 

Any Weasley fan club members will also be disappointed, as Ron is relegated to little more than comic relief. In this latest adventure, we’re expected to believe that Ron would gift a vial of love potion (which, let’s be honest, is basically the magical equivalent of a date rape drug) to his nephew. Frankly, it’s insulting to the audience’s intelligence, considering that he fell victim to a spiked box of chocolates a mere two books ago and nearly died as a result.

In a less than valiant effort, the play felt a lot more like a lazy roundup of characters and events that the playwright thought the fans would want to see instead of a clever, original Harry Potter story. 

In my mind, I’d like to imagine that Rita Skeeter wrote the Cursed Child in a last attempt to become relevant again and that Harry, Ron and Hermione are all having a good laugh about it.

 

There’s new magic in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Ryan Pistorius

Dumbledore once said, “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”

While many seem to have been injured by the words in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, much of the criticism can be remedied by understanding and appreciating the medium of the story.

The book is not a novel, but a script, and much of the magic is always going to be lost in reading a play rather than seeing it performed live. Indeed, those who saw the play have given almost unanimously positive reviews, suggesting that what makes the story a success cannot be found purely in the words on the page. As such, poor critiques of the script may have stemmed more from an inability to visualize its contents than from any failings in the story itself.

However, the same scarcity of long, descriptive paragraphs that made this visualization difficult also made the script of this play more direct and engaging, allowing readers to connect more easily with the world. Even though people who expected a novel were disappointed by the change in format, that change was intentional, allowing the story to target a new audience and include people who’d never picked up the original books.

Whatever the format, many expected the new tale to be a typical Harry Potter adventure, with the same characters and the same sense of magic as the original seven books. That was the case in part, and I know I can’t have been the only one to suddenly get Floo powder in my eyes when Dumbledore’s portrait appeared.

But many of these references to the original world were designed not to advance the plot, but to reinforce the connection between the play and the original seven books, satisfying the nostalgia of an old and established audience whilst engaging those who’d never read a Harry Potter book before.

This new script format, with new characters and targeting a new audience, was never supposed to be the same as Rowling’s original series. It may be the eighth Harry Potter story, but it is consciously a very different experience from the first seven.

In many ways, this story was the half-blood sibling of the series, set in Rowling’s wizarding world but written and directed by Muggles Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. That makes it more accessible in many ways, which is ultimately a good thing for the series as a whole.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is something new and unique that deserves to be read, because on the words of these pages there is magic to be found.

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