There are no words to express how tragically disappointed I was by Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This is not a story or a play that can stand on it’s own feet. It relied completely and utterly on an audience already engaged in the Harry Potter novels and did nothing but rehash the stories already told. It felt…lazy. There was nothing new, nothing interesting. Even the ‘new’ characters were just re-skins of the characters that we already knew and loved, even the villain was simply a repetition of the ones we’d already put to bed long ago.
I realise that using a play as a medium already puts limitations on the in depth story telling that so many Harry Potter fans have come to expect, but conveying that depth is part of the talent in writing a script. From the stage directions Harry Potter and the Cursed Child already relies far too heavily on a huge budget and special effects. This is why it feels lazy. Rather than using a limited medium to be truly special and unique it feels like it’s trying to be a novel, spliced with a film and getting neither right. I don’t doubt for a moment that the play will be spectacular. I’ve heard great things about the actors, and even better things about the direction, but that’s the problem for me. It will be good because it had a budget and not because it’s actually good!
The story is exactly what you might expect. Adults with parenting problems, children under the shadows of their parents legacies. My main issue was that there was no uniqueness to the characters. Albus and Scorpio felt like mixtures of James/Harry Potter and Severus Snape/Draco Malfoy. The entire plot revolved around revisiting events from the previous Harry Potter novels. There was scope to give the new generation and indeed the old generation a new villain to fight, but instead we just repeated the same old moments and movements with the same old characters. It was all just more of the same!
I don’t want to spoil anything, indeed I don’t even think I could. The time travel angle has been discussed to death in countless films, books and video games that what you think might happen does happen. It held no surprises or unique points of interest. Everything had been done. This wasn’t simply a play set in the Harry Potter universe. It was a slight retelling of stories already set in the Harry Potter universe!
Do I want to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the theatre? Sure I do! I’m sure it will be a feast for the senses in every way possible. But the truth is that I, like many people, might never get that chance. I’ve read countless plays that manage to be deep, dark and atmospheric without all the extra trappings which were such a joy to read. This was not one of them.