In the spirit of today being the start of term for Hogwarts students, I thought I should post not just about that but about a story that took us back to Harry’s world. A story that starts one year from now.
I’m sure I’m only adding to the cluster of reviews accumulating on the media regarding Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Nevertheless, it’s been nine years since Harry was the newest book on the shelves. I couldn’t pass this opportunity to give my opinion now I’ve read it.
However excited I may have been about reading this, I quickly discovered that my expectations were, perhaps, too elevated. I imagined the story following Albus, James, Rose, Scorpius, and others in their year at Hogwarts; it would probably center around Albus and him dealing with being a Potter who’s a Slytherin. My reasoning for this was the pure fact of why my generation fell head-over-heels for the first seven books. We related to the scenes when the least amount of plot happened. For me, those are my favorite parts. Because who doesn’t want to do magic homework, learn about flying, and mythological creatures? We were going through the exact same things they were at pretty much the same time. We could relate to characters of any age. Those books were character driven, and there was logic behind all the magic and actions. Empathy from readers to characters was linked together through experience.
It’s so disappointing to have a story missing this fundamental core of the Potter stories: character relatability.
Now, I have several qualms about this script, but I will focus on one of them: who is the cursed child? This question brings attention to how plot-centric this play ended up. This is due to the catalyst of the conflict and subsequent time-traveling fiasco. The catalyst appeared early in the play, pleading to Harry and Hermione for an illegal Time-Turner to go back and save his son from dying in the Little Hangleton Graveyard. And while the death of Cedric Diggory was a tragedy, this becomes central to the plot, an obsession to others including the catalyst. A character we haven’t seen in a substantial amount since 2001 (the publication of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). Yes, the catalyst of the conflict, a reason for Albus wanting to change things, was Amos Diggory. . . .
Is Amos’s loss horrible? Absolutely. But there are so many other characters who could have regressed and been a cause of the plot’s conflict. I won’t go off into that tangent because it doesn’t relate to my main point. Albus decides to steal the illegal Time-Turner to go back and save Cedric for Amos to turn back one casualty of Harry Potter. The son of the Boy Who Lived resents his father’s past struggles without understanding one critical thing: HARRY DIDN’T WANT ANY OF IT!
Harry was a product of some prophecy some guy heard from some woman who said he had to kill someone, or he would be thwarted. Harry was dumped into a childhood where he was tormented and put-down by the only family he had left, and he had no idea why. Harry had to deal with people gawking at him and discover he was the most famous wizard in the world and not know he was. Harry had to watch a fellow Hogwarts student die before dueling the darkest wizard of all time as a 14 year-old. Harry had to accept the fact that he had to die in order to spare the Wizarding World from enslavement and genocide at age 17. Now do you think he wanted this?
And still, still, after all the Wizarding people clearly knowing about Harry’s past nineteen years later, they treat him like he wanted it all! Like he wanted to be a celebrity! Nine years later we are still getting stories about Harry where no one – NO ONE – realizes he never ONCE said “hey, pay attention to me!” ; “look at me, the Boy Who Lived” ; “I’m famous because my parents died, and I didn’t!” People still put how they would behave in place of Harry’s quantifiable actions.
And you know what? I’M STICK OF IT!
I thought this play would showcase the second youngest Potter experiencing Hogwarts not through the lens of a Gryffindor but as a Slytherin. I thought we were going to get a different opinion of who members of Slytherin House are. I wanted a story to redeem a House plagued with a reputation for being ass-hole Death Eaters, who aren’t pleasant to be around. That’s saying a lot as I am a Gryffindor. The saddest thing is, in a way, I got my wish but not from a Potter from a Malfoy. You’ll have to read the book to see why I was pleased with the Malfoy family after Act One that is.
In the end, we got a book focused way too much on the revival of Tom Riddle and Time-Travel rather than the precious relationship of father and son, a father and son who are very different and yet so much the same. Albus went through the same things (to a degree) as Harry when bullied, had trouble with magic and potions, and class in general. Did the play ever give that the most focus; how a father could help a son see the value in himself when the father didn’t have a parent to guide him before? Did the play breakdown the complex relationship of family, and how difficult it can be to be so recognizable without even wanting it (as the creator of the world would know)? No. This is why I’m so disappointed about the Cursed Child. It wasn’t the Time-Traveling, the unfamiliar catalyst or villain. It was the flagrant mistreatment of characters, whom I’ve grown up with, whom I turned to for guidance when no one around me could. I expect the play’s title was a reference to Albus. I don’t think so. Because Harry Potter, after all this time, is still treated as a cursed child simply for being born at the right time to the right family according to a deeply misguided individual.