*For those reading, be forewarned that this post does contain spoilers. Read at your own risk.*
And the story begins with The Boy Who Lived. Harry Potter is more than an extremely lucrative and popular book series. It is a fantasy realm that continues to resonate with audiences of varying ages, long after the final book was published in 2007. Controversial to some and wildly praised by others, author J.K. Rowling has succeeded in injecting Harry Potter and his fellow witches and wizards into the common lexicon.
As a life long enjoyer of the films and novels, and a proud, yet underrated Hufflepuff, I was not very confident that J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter franchise had anything more to be said after it's conclusion. Voldemort is slain, Harry is living the good life with his wife and kids, and, probably most notably, his iconic lightning scar has not twinged with dread in nineteen years. What a perfectly happy ending to the series. Now, toss that all out the window, and here we have Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a screenplay written by Jack Thorne, based on a story written by him, John Tiffany, and J.K. Rowling. The theatrical production, currently being performed in London's West End, tells the story of Harry Potter's second son, Albus Severus, and his discouraged friendship and adventures with Scorpius Malfoy, son of Harry's old foe, Draco Malfoy. Simple enough to sound intriguing at the start. This is taking place nineteen years later, so naturally everything should still be going smoothly. Why would we have a story if it was?
One aspect of any book or franchise that I find intolerable is a lack of continuity. Continuity makes a fictional reality feel so strong and concrete. Illogical loopholes or down right ridiculous coincidences will never score high points with me. Unfortunately, this book is chalk full of them. Two particular loopholes I can not forgive are the existence of Delphi Diggory and Harry's scar burning in distress. Let's begin with Delphi.
Delphi is intended to be the daughter of Lord Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange. Her birth is revealed to take place during the course of the seventh Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Therefore, Bellatrix would have been pregnant during the time at Malfoy Manor or that the baby had already been born. Either way, Draco Malfoy should have been aware of this fact considering his familial relation with both. Not to mention the fact that Voldemort never expressed any romantic, or even lustful feelings, towards any woman in the franchise. So, the idea of Moldy Voldy having a child is rather funny to me. Furthermore, having the character of Delphi exist for the sake of trying to rewrite time to bring Voldemort back so that she could meet him, feels weak. If the rise of magic and sic-fi television tells us anything, time cannot be changed.
In conjunction with Delphi's existence, the rumour that Scorpius Malfoy was truly the son of Draco's wife, Astoria, and Lord Voldemort made me roll my eyes. It was obvious from the beginning this was a blatant misdirect. The rumour is perpetuated because of the use of Time Turners. Draco's father, Lucius, has Astoria sent back in time to have sex with Voldemort and conceive a child her and Draco cannot have. Like, what?! Utter nonsense! Nonetheless, like many things in the wizarding world, the characters believe it. Or at least, consider it. Plus, Delphi's name immediately brought to mind the Ancient Greek association with the God Apollo and his place of prophecy at Delphi. Prophecy, Delphi, Voldemort, you can see where I'm going with this.
The second loophole involves Harry. J.K. Rowling once stated in an interview that Harry's scar burned when he was a around Voldemort because the piece of Voldemort's soul that lives in Harry is trying to escape and join it's master. Okay, awesome. Then when the Horcrux inside Harry is destroyed, Harry's scar ceases to hurt. Additionally, Harry's gift of Parseltongue disappears. The gift was only because of Voldemort's soul. Yet, in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Harry has regained both the pain in his scar, and the ability to speak Parseltongue. I put my hands up in defeat here. It just doesn't make sense. Try and spin it anyway you want. It's convenient only for the plot of the screenplay.
A highlight from the screenplay is it's style. I have heard multiple complaints about not enjoying the screenplay format. I thought is was different for a change and helped give a more freeing idea of what everything would appear like on stage. I've read many books in this format before, so I see it as a positive in this case.
The friendship between Albus and Scorpius felt good, if not a little teen-flick-ish at times. Both are sorted into Slytherin house and become instant friends. Much like our original Gryffindor heroes: Harry, Ron, and Hermione. But as the characters are fleshed out, their being placed in Slytherin felt questionable to me. Scorpius, despite what I expected, was by far my favourite character and the sweetest. He doesn't display any qualities like a young Draco and feels more of a Hufflepuff than anything. I found Albus a little dry. This may be because I thought the conflict between him and Harry was fruitless. The plot seemed a little too recycled for me. The Albus we see in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, if anything, appeared to be the closest to Harry. That is up for interpretation of course. But Albus' fear of being put into Slytherin disappears in the screenplay. Gryffindor even receives Albus' hatred. I was under the impression the Sorting Hat was torn over Harry's house because he was a Horcrux. Voldemort belonged in Slytherin, but Harry was at home in Gryffindor. In the end, Harry got to choose. Albus should have had the choice as well.
Personally, I think Jack Thorne simply wanted to make the focus be on a different house than Gryffindor for once. I will say Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff are anxiously still waiting on the sidelines. As to whether his characters' personalities matched the house he chose for them, it will be up to you.
In all, I think Thorne did good work of showing a wide variety of old characters. We all know you can't have a sequel without mentioning your old favourites. Notably, some big names like Neville Longbottom only appeared in passing. The place for them in this story is not a must, regardless. Ron felt a little unnecessary. He was no longer an Auror and instead, works at the Weasley joke shop with George. Although, being part of the original Three made his presence, albeit pointless, a nice add in.
When Harry stands on platform nine and three-quarters nineteen years after Voldemort's death, I was content to have him live a normal life. Frankly, the adventures of his children did not particularly interest me. Nor do I feel 'all is well' should mean 'for a little bit things were okay, but now old, repetitive troubles are a brewing.' No matter how painful it may be to let go of Harry, I think the door needs to close on his life. If J.K. Rowling wants to support another play, let's have it about the Marauders or Newt Scamander. We can reenter the world without directly having Harry involved. To close, I'm fine with returning to the wizarding world, but I think Potter deserves that carefree life with Ginny and the kids. God knows, he's earned it.
My Rating: 6/10