If you are at all like me, you probably spent the better part of your childhood reading/ watching/ obsessing over the Harry Potter series. It isn’t even a franchise anymore. It has become a phenomenon really, defining and shaping an entire generation, and reinventing the fantasy genre. Harry Potter and the (excuse the colloquial term) fandom it created has been inescapable. The fans are basically a community, bound together by mutual love as well as mutual hatred (come on we all hated Umbridge).
For me personally, Potter was a definitive part of my childhood and played a part in shaping who I am as a person. Half my friends were made through mutual obsession and to this day I spend a large part of my time reading fan theories and crying over character deaths (some may call it unhealthy but I don’t care).
So I’m sure the rage of devoted fans, such as myself, at the latest instalment, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child can be understood. I will not mince my words here, it’s junk. Reading that play was similar to reading poorly written fan-fiction, which makes sense since it wasn’t even written by J.K. Rowling. In the Cursed Child, playwrights Jack Thorne and John Tiffany show only the crudest understanding of the characters as they were originally portrayed, and absolutely no respect for logic when it comes to crafting a plot. The word that springs to mind when discussing the storyline is ‘retarded’. The plot is advanced through a series of time-jumps and alternate realities, each of which make less sense than the last.
The basic premise of the play is Harry’s conflict and resentment-ridden relationship with his son. This in itself seems faintly idiotic when you consider who Harry Potter is as a person. He’s hardly the sort of character who you’d picture as an absentee father who can’t relate to his son, especially since Albus is basically exactly like him. And the sole reason why the two can’t get along is that Albus is in Slytherin. Now Harry was fairly anti-Slytherin during his time at Hogwarts, but Deathly Hallows saw him mature and understand that Slytherins weren’t all bad and his dislike for the house certainly wouldn’t extend so far as to make him say that he wished that Albus wasn’t his son (yes this happened in the play, Harry James Potter, after having the childhood he did, supposedly rejected his son). In the epilogue of Deathly Hallows, when Albus was scared of being a Slytherin, Harry even said “then Slytherin house will have gained an excellent student, won’t it?” So don’t even try to tell me that Albus’ Hogwarts house would have been a source for such extreme friction. And while we’re on the subject of the mutilation of Harry’s character, he would never have been so arrogant and unfeeling as to pull rank over Prof McGonagall about the fact that she never had kids, he definitely wouldn’t tell her that she doesn’t understand, while making the most ridiculous un-Harry like demand ever (keep mine and Malfoy’s kid away from each other). Now Harry is far from being a flawless character but there is no way in hell that he would insult Minerva McGonagall, he’s not that stupid.
Now maybe you concede that Harry could possibly have been a not so perfect father, but I think we can all agree that Ginny would definitely call him out when he was being an idiot. Instead she stands by meekly while he interferes in and messes up his son’s already messed up life.
While we’re on the subject of characters, brutally maimed – what the hell did they do to Hermione? Hermione is an incredibly strong character, who is perfectly capable of achieving what she wants, with or without help. She is extremely smart and widely considered to be one of the sharpest minds of her age. Yet in one of the many time jumps it is implied that without Ron, Hermione cannot get where she wants to go. That particular alternate reality sees Hermione as a very bitter Hogwarts Professor, not as Minister for Magic as she is in the ‘real world’. To the writers I have just one question – ARE YOU TRYING TO TELL ME THAT HERMIONE GRANGER IS INCAPABLE OF BEING MINISTER FOR MAGIC IF SHE DOESN’T END UP WITH RON? This particular character arc is actually incredibly distressing. Hermione was always the go-to feminist character. She was the person who made everyone understand the girls can be just as strong, or even stronger than boys, she refused to be labelled as weak. For me particularly Hermione was the character who made me believe that it was okay to be a nerd. So the idea of her needing Ron to be Minister is repulsive to me.
Now you’d think that all the dead good guys would be left alone. But no – instead the writers go after Cedric Diggory, who in one reality, became evil and joined the dark side because he lost the Triwizard Tournament. I may remind you that this is the same Cedric Diggory who, in Prisoner of Azkaban, wanted a rematch when he discovered that Harry had fallen of his broom, allowing him to catch the snitch and win a game of Quidditch. Yes I am sure that this man would turn to the Dark Arts and Lord Voldemort because he didn’t win.
Besides the mutilated characters, there is also the ridiculous plot. Completely illogical from beginning to end. The Cursed Child simply doesn’t make any sense. The idea of time hops resulting in dire consequences and messed up alternate realities is lifted almost directly from Back To The Future. But here it just seems stupid.
There are some good bits though. Draco Malfoy finally gets his long overdue redemption as a good father and a good person. Minerva McGonagall is as badass as she ever was. And perhaps the best scene of all is when a portrait of Albus Dumbledore in the hospital wing calls Harry out on his terrible choice of name for his children.
However the good cannot compensate for the bad in this one. So I have one small request- Harry Potter was good the way it was, no please LEAVE IT ALONE. If history has taught us one thing it is that the spin-off almost invariable ruins the original. And the Cursed Child is no exception to that rule.