Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.

It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.

While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

I might be one of the last people to read this play–at least of those who preordered it. I thought I’d never get my copy! Ya’ll know I’m a mega Harry Potter fan, so of COURSE I had to read it.

There have been a lot of mixed reviews from the fandom. Many think it feels like fanfiction, but the overall consensus was that it was good, even if it wasn’t the story we had hoped for. (HELLO–MAURAUDERS!) Either way, I knew I would have strong feelings.

But…I…um…HUH??

The only real feeling I have is confusion. And disappointment?

I know what this play was trying to do. It tries to bring the wonderful wizarding world to the stage. IT isn’t a novel, and so characterization and staging is limited. It can’t be the same expansive THING that are the first seven books.

However–this almost did too much in the other direction. So much of the magic of this world is Hogwarts itself–the castle, the feasts, the sortings, the Quidditch. The play had almost none of that. In fact, we hardly spend any time at all at the school; Ravenclaw isn’t even mentioned, and Hufflepuff gets one very quiet nod.

Instead, the play focuses on yet another wizarding war, and Albus becomes just one more Potter clone–and he was supposed to be the one set apart. The time turning plot gets confusing, jumping back and back and back. Maybe it comes across better on stage, but I really just miss the rest of Hogwarts.

I can see why people see this as inauthentic. It feels like it’s trying to hard–and maybe it is. I don’t think I’ve talked to a single Harry Potter fan that actually likes the epilogue, and to build a play upon it just makes it that much more uncomfortable.

I had a feeling that this is how I would feel, when I was reading the previews for the show. There was no doubt I would buy it for my collection, and read it right away. I hoped that I would be as in love with it as the rest of the books–but this will probably grow dusty on my shelf, and never get as worn as the other seven.

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