Warning: This review contains spoilers for “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” a two-part West End stage play written by Jack Thorne based on an original new story by Thorne, J.K. Rowling and John Tiffany. If you have not read the script or seen the play, please do not read this review. However, if you have at least read the script if not seen the play or you don’t mind spoilers, feel free to read this!
Before I launch into this review in full force, I should note the following: I have not seen the actual play. I have only read the script, and that is what I’m basing my review of “The Cursed Child” on. Here’s the summary so that we know what it’s about:
“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.”
Plotwise…the time travelling plot was something I found to be extremely overdone. Albus and his friends end up going in time several times throughout both parts of the play, and I understand that they wanted to do it so that Cedric Diggory would be alive in their present time, but instead they only brought on a ton of chaos in their world (including a future where Harry died, meaning that Albus was never born and the world is ruled by Voldemort). Did Albus have to try to go back in time so many times to fix it? Not necessarily.
I also felt that many of the characters could have been utilized in a better way. Did Delphi really have to be Voldemort’s biological daughter? Couldn’t he just have created her out of dark magic for her to avenge his death should his death end up happening, or maybe Delphi could have been another Horocrux that nobody knew of and Voldemort could have supposedly placed one on her to guarantee that he would be able to get back to life somehow—I feel like Voldemort having a biological daughter felt far too convenient for the story.
I also feel like characters such as Ginny could have been utilized better in the play, rather than just being there for a couple of conversations. Also, what happened to Cho Chang? Where did she go? I’m surprised to hear nothing about her, given that Cho Chang was formerly a love interest of both Cedric and Harry and that she wasn’t even mentioned at all as of what could happen to her in the alternate timelines. Even if we had a small mention of her like we heard with Draco’s wife Astoria, it would have fixed a very obvious plot hole right there rather than say nothing about Cho.
However, I felt that Scorpius did shine through this play, and I felt him to have more of the action in the play than Albus did, despite Albus being the main character. That might have been because it took so long to fix the “Voldemort wins” future, but for me Scorpius also felt like a more interesting character, given the rumors surrounding him being the Dark Lord’s child and such.
Severus Snape, for the brief time that he was also in the play, also worked well for me. He had some touching moments with Albus, such as telling him (before dying again) that he was honoured to have someone named after him and such, and despite his brief appearance it was still nice to see him. I also thought another touching moment was when after the timeline was fixed and Hagrid picks up baby Harry to send to the Vernons, setting up the plot for the first Harry Potter book.
Harry and Albus themselves shared an obvious tension of a strained father-son relationship, and the play details Harry and Albus’ struggles with this relationship while trying to balance the rest of their lives. I wish Harry and Albus had more times to actually talk to each other in present time during the play, as I felt that they should have more conversation together if they really want to mend their relationship.
Overall, I’m giving this play a 2.5 out of 5 stars for the overdone time-travelling, plot holes, and the too-convenient concept of Delphi being Voldemort’s daughter as well as lack of utilizing already-existing characters in the Harry Potter series.