When you start reading the script, you’re immediately hit with this avalanche of nostalgia. Being transported to platform 9 3/4, the Hogwarts express and our famous little trio. You’re excited. You’re ready to go back to Hogwarts. Ready to see what’s become of your beloved characters. Ready for adventure.
We start off where the epilogue ended and we’re introduced to our new characters. We have Albus Severus (probably the biggest curse he ever got), Rose, James and most importantly, Scorpius Malfoy (who honestly, was the shining light in this script).
The script then rushes past their first couple years at Hogwarts with Albus being sorted into Slytherin. We’re shown how the two became friends and where our trio has ended up: Hermione as minister for magic, Harry as head of magical law enforcement and Ron (the most underdeveloped and one dimensional character in this scrip) is running Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes.
And that is where our problems begin. The characterization of so many characters in this script is so incorrect and inconsistent, it’s unforgivable. Ron is portrayed as just a pathetic side character. But he is not a pathetic side character. He has a personality, he has character but no, Thorne (the guy who wrote they play) decided to reduce his character to a one dimensional drunk who makes jokes. And it’s not only Ron, we see it throughout the script, specifically Snape and Dumbledore who are both portrayed as completely different characters from their original counterparts.
But characterization is only a small part of the problem here. The problem here, and it is not specific to the cursed child in any way, is that when you get an “adaptor” (i.e. not the author) to write a story based in her universe, it comes across as fan fiction. And again, this is not specific to this story but the cursed child, specifically, does have a certain proclivity towards fan fiction. The Snape scene is the quintessential example of this point. The only thing that made that scene really stand out for me was reading it with Alan Rickman’s voice in mind, it gave me chills.
Then we have the narrative itself. Using time travel as your driving plot point was always going to be a bad idea but what made this particular choice unforgivable was the inconsistency. If you look at how time travel is used in third book, it’s explained that one cannot change the past (and consequently the future) because you had already time travelled back in the first place. So those events were meant to occur any how (for example Harry conjuring the patronus. It was always going to be him conjuring the patronus). In the cursed child however, the same device (Time Turner) is used again but time travel is now, for some inexplicable reason, treated in a completely different manner. Now the past can be changed at will and the future will, consequently, be affected by said change (aka the butterfly effect). Again, this goes back to the fact that it is not the original author of the work who is writing the story and so facts are changed to fit the story the adaptor has in mind.
And then we have the fact that the main villain is Voldermort’s daughter by Bellatrix conceived during wartime. I can’t even expand on this because it is just so unfathomable. I just can’t accept that as believable in any way or form. In my eyes, it was just lazy storytelling.
I believe that there are two types of readers: the hardcore, fandom fanatics who will accept anything an author pushes out and can ignore inconsistencies and plot holes and enjoy the story anyways because it forms part of said universe. And then you have the second type of reader who will look at a story, love the fandom, love the franchise but will not be able to ignore the inconsistencies and plot holes set out like the first reader. This does not mean the second reader hates the franchise, it just means the second reader cannot, or does not, want to ignore these imperfections. I tend to be like the second reader, I love the franchise but I can’t just ignore the many imperfections contained within the cursed child.
This is all not to say that the script is totally horrible and I hated it. I enjoyed it quite a bit and it was great to be able to travel back to Hogwarts and it was an even greater nostalgia bomb. The scenes between the original characters, especially Draco and Harry, were brilliant in their simplicity and call backs to old times, even if Ginny’s character was all over the place in her motives and intentions (first she’s blaming Harry then she’s apologizing, I don’t understand what they were thinking when they wrote her character). And then, as a I stated at the beginning, Scorpius Malfoy’s character was beautifully written and his relationship with Draco was really well done.
In the end, I believe the script would have benefited from a better plot. The time travel element should have never been included. Instead, they should’ve created a story around Albus and Scorpius through the years in Slytherin. More of how they interacted with everyone at Hogwarts (being the son of Draco and Harry) and how Albus interacted with James and Lily (who were barely in the script – which I feel was a sad omission. So much could’ve been done with their characters). It would’ve also been a great “redemption” story for Slytherin. Having Harry Potter’s own son in your house is bound to make the label of “Evil House” less believable.
This all begs the question: will I accept the cursed child as the eight story in the Harry Potter saga? Sadly, no. It was enjoyable and it had some truly great moments but overall, I don’t believe it earned the right to be a part of the original 7.