WARNING: CONTAINS SPOILERS
Harry Potter has always been special to me. I first started reading the books on my own at the age of 7 and devoured every book. It was the one point in time that I can clearly define my dream of being an author developing as each book captured and nurtured my imagination.
So I cannot stress how much of a disappointment this thing is. I say thing because it is not the Harry Potter universe I know and love.
The only reason this apparently exists is to screw as much money from the fans as they could, because this does not add to the overall Harry Potter plot in anyway. If you can even call ‘The Cursed Child‘ a plot. Whoever decided that this was a good idea has officially ‘Supernaturaled’ Harry Potter – by that I mean ruined it entirely. I refuse to accept this as part of the Harry Potter universe. I just can’t.
This play (or plays, hence why money seems to be the only motivation here) does not enrich our understanding of J K Rowling‘s story world or characters. It completely ignores the seven novels and the characterisation that was developed throughout them. The characters we know and love are completely different to how Rowling had expertly created them, which is why ‘The Cursed Child’ is nothing more than a phantom limb to the Harry Potter universe.
The thing that made the Harry Potter novels so beautiful was how thorough the plotting behind them was. Everything tied together so neatly, even the small subplots and intricate details Rowling has through all seven novels. This had absolutely none of that. It was like a very poorly plotted fan fiction, which is an insult to fan fiction. The plot cannot be called a plot. There are so many plot holes laced throughout the entire thing that I’m surprised the book didn’t fall apart in my hands. None of it makes sense.
Why, after all the years that he has been dead, would Cedric Diggory be so crucial to the story “development”??? Why would a character think “Yes that is the point in time that would definitely be detrimental to my evil plot.” ??? Another humongous plot hole (SPOILERS) is Voldemort was not the type of character to succumb to sexual desire. Not in any way, shape or form. Maybe before he first created the horcruxes, but he was not the type of character that was motivated by “Yeah I totes wanna get inside that girl’s pants.” NO. JUST NO. What made Voldemort’s character so terrifying is his motivation was purely about power and immortality. He wanted to prove that he was above such base human urges and that he could become almost God-like in existence. He WOULD NOT SUCCUMB TO SOMEONE’S WOMANLY CHARMS and say “YES I WANT TO TAP THAT.” NO. DO NOT TELL ME THAT. THAT WOULD NOT HAPPEN. This annoyed me so much it was unreal.
The other thing that really REALLY annoyed me is the fact that they had such an opportunity to take this story world in a different direction from the Voldemort story lines. They had a completely fresh start with the next generation of wizards, and they WASTED IT. They could have created a really unique one off plot about Albus and Scorpius defeating a new threat that had absolutely nothing to do with their fathers’ past, but they had to pull it right back to Voldemort. Again, I point to a fact that the last film totally missed about these books – the whole point of Voldemort’s death was to show that despite his endeavours, he remained human, and died like a normal human being (do not get me started on the film’s weird ash death thing). The whole point was to prove that he was a normal mortal man. Where as by dragging him back to life as the over all threat in this abomination, Thorne has tried to create the impression that actually he was this terrifying God-like existence WHICH TOTALLY MISSES THE POINT OF HIS CHARACTER AND HIS DEATH. Instead of doing something new and original, Thorne decided to rehash a plot that had already been done, and he didn’t even do it well.
Thorne tried to use humour to save his horrendous plot, but I personally don’t think this managed to save it. The ridiculous stage directions were laughable, and parts of the dialogue equally so. Case in point, the Trolley Witch:
…and the St Oswald’s home for old witches and wizards:
Just… why? Harry Potter’s unique humour in the earlier books was brilliant because of the audience it was aimed at, and the later books had less of this as the targeted audience grew up with them. This had no need for this humour, and considering how ‘thrilling’ Thorne has tried to make the plot, it was completely out of place.
The only saving grace for the plays were Albus and Scorpius’ friendship. It was cute, and I did love Scorpius’s character and some of his humourous dialogue despite myself, but this play did not do these characters justice. Thorne could have done something so original and unique with them and he just didn’t!! I liked the internal conflict we saw with Albus being afraid to not live up to the expectations of being Harry Potter’s son, but surely his older brother James would have taken some of this away from him? Thorne could have written a beautiful exploration of Albus’s character and relationship with his father, showing Albus as desperate to prove himself as his father’s son – looking for adventure and then being gently told afterwards that his father loved him no matter what. But instead we’re presented with this weird motivation to go off and do something completely random for someone who Albus has never even met and has no actual character motivation to do so? NO.
So much of these plays was completely unnecessary – this could quite easily have been cut into one single play and it still would have murdered the Harry Potter universe as well as it did with two. Considering how bare the plot is, I can’t see how Thorne managed to make two plays out of it.
This all being said, to truly criticise it I would have to see it being performed on a stage. You have to admire Thorne’s ambition to adapt such a large story world for the stage. I have been told that the special effects were amazing and mildly rescued the plays, and I am curious to see how you could possibly do most of these scene transitions. I could see how you would be able to do it in film, but not on a stage in a theatre.