Was I the only one a bit confused by the latest Harry Potter instalment?



Was I the only one a bit confused by the latest instalment of Harry Potter?

Yes it is written in a play format, that’s not my problem – I endured English Literature A-Level.

But the story itself was honestly a bit surreal for me.

Don’t get me wrong! I bloody love Harry Potter and I was part of the generation that began school when the first book was published and finished it when the last film was released. I can base my age growing up on Harry Potter milestones.

I waited for my Hogwarts letter when I turned eleven. I thought the fourth film didn’t do my favourite of the books justice. I cried when Harry went into the Forbidden Forest to be killed. And don’t even get me started on “Always”. At 21 years old I squealed louder than the ten year olds in the line for the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London and I felt the old childhood feelings of wishing I could play a small part of the wizarding world when watching the trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them.

But somehow I just wasn’t quite convinced by Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

I preordered it, got irritated with the postman who left it with the neighbours who never answer their door. Began reading it instead of the million and one other things I ‘should’ have been doing.

In the end I read it in about three seatings – because apparently adulting unfortunately takes priority every so often. And when I finished the last few pages I have to admit I was rather disappointed. It somehow didn’t read like a J.K. Rowling piece. I even made sure I pictured it on stage in my head – which often did help – but overall it read to me like some kind of awkward spin off of the books.

The whole play is riddled with throwbacks, references and scenes from the original books. Which when I first began, it gave me the warm fuzzy feeling of being lost back in the wizarding world as a kid. Spells being cast, quotes from Mrs Weasley and the introductions to our original cast.

But once the story kicks in it seems to start leaving gaps, the dialogue a bit clumsy and at times a bit too recycled from the original books.

Now, I understand that adults aren’t perfect and that everyone has their own issues. But to me the only one that seems to have actually grown up out of the three original protagonists is Hermione. We all knew she would become Minister for Magic and she would keep it real. But she seems to be the only one with a rational mind – hiding a Time-Turner in a bookcase for children to find aside. It makes sense her daughter is like a mini ode to her as well. That’s some cute children to be proud of.

Ron on the other hand doesn’t seem to have changed much at all. While of course I could argue that he is a loyal friend who stands up for what he loves, I never quite understood why Ron was suddenly made out to be the buffoon of the group. And how Hermione was attracted to that. Loyalty and joke cracking aside, I was holding out for Ron to be a bit more of an intellectual challenge for Hermione. Don’t get me wrong it might translate differently on stage, but it seemed like every time Ron came on stage, it was to make some awkward cracks to ‘diffuse’ the tension of the scene which sure is sometimes needed but somehow still kind of forced, or it was to remind everyone that yes, he was married to Hermione and they were ok thank you very much. It might have been nice to seen that played down a bit and him offering a bit more as a character.

And then there’s Harry. Harry who tells one of his sons that he sometimes wishes he weren’t is. Let’s be honest for a sec: that’s pretty brutal! After all Harry has been through, to me this just doesn’t add up somehow. The Dumbledore scrap sure, the weird reconciliation with Draco if you must, but spending half the play acting like it’s difficult to learn to love your own child seems rather odd and almost adolescent in itself. Poor kid.

I think I was hoping for a bit of a stronger, more empowered and James Senior-esque Harry. Harry with a bit more self-confidence. It seems Hermione is the only one with rational thought and planning while Harry is still determined to face everything alone like a mopey teenager. Of course until he finally realises he is not alone. But bit dull that it’s taken him an eighth book/script to finally get that?!  And how is it he is braver and cleverer in confronting Voldemort but is disarmed by Delphi in two minutes…!?

I dunno, I’m just not wholly convinced the co-writers quite got the essence of the characters. Some of the time it just seemed a bit too fantastical for such a fantastical story.

For a world with such confident, certain in who they are characters, the play seemed to jump this a bit in a sort of mad whirlwind rom-com kind of way. It’s a classic cheesy plot line. Friends that don’t exist because their parents died or never got together. The awkward glance between the pair when they are told. A character being told they die. Said character putting on the bravado of thinking said death would be a great way to go. The kids then save the parents. The parents become the helpless teens in the situation.

This plot to me shakes up the whole essence of who the characters are. Ron came across as even more buffoonish in the flashbacks, Hermione the sort of strong feminist leader who is supposed to be the cleverest witch of her time and can’t even produce a Patronus. And then Snape who banters with Scorpius and then jokes about how he dies. It’s just a bit too Hollywood influence for my liking…

And what about the shock of Craig Bowker Jr’s almost throwaway death for the sake of symbolism, Draco enjoying being bossed around by Hermione and the rise of, wait for it, Voldemort and Bellatrix Lestrange’s daughter!? I’m sorry, what the fudge!?

I find it ludicrous that the darkest wizard of all time would have even considered putting time aside to get jiggy with Bellatrix when the only things that were ever apparently important to him were becoming the most powerful wizard on earth and killing Harry Potter.

And after this long wait: I still have no idea who the ‘Cursed Child’ is actually referring to. Is it Albus, Scorpius, Harry, Draco, Delphi?!

While I enjoyed the thrill of reading the adventures of a Potter and reliving the magic again, there were just a few too many questions left unanswered in a series that is renowned for its character and plot depth.

I have nothing against it, but why was Albus sorted in Slytherin when the rest of his family are in Gryffindor?

Where was Hugo Granger-Weasley?

Why didn’t Rose get involved in the action? After all she is the daughter of Hermione Granger?

Where was Professor Neville? And Luna?

What about Teddy Lupin? He’s supposed to be Harry’s godson. Why wasn’t he at King’s Cross boarding the train? All he needed was a couple of lines saying he’ll watch out for him or something.

… are just some of the many questions I have for the writers. Maybe this is what J.K. Rowling’s plan was all along! She’s up for another Twitter debate!

*Just a couple of my favourites.

All the above said, I would still be very curious to see how the live play matches up in comparison. I did smile as the book followed the classic line of starting at the beginning of a school year with the Hogwart’s Express, followed by the standard two big run ins with adventure/dark magic/things they shouldn’t be doing, ending in one final battle with dark forces/Voldemort and then finishing being told off in the Headmistress’ office.

It was nostalgia inducing and it certainly gave me something look forward to. I’m sorry J.K. but that final chapter in the seventh Harry Potter book just didn’t quite do the characters we knew so well any justice.

What did you think? Have you seen the play? How would you rate it?

Han x



  1. You certainly weren’t the only one, but I’m afraid I’m not one of them. I loved Cursed Child – it felt like an amalgam of all the good and the bad of J.K.’s original stories, an appreciation of them, and a meta narrative about fan fiction and fan stories. There’s also the really powerful stuff about sacrifice, and the dark moments of our lives, and how they shape us. And it seemed to greatly understand the characters’ hearts: How Hermione always knows what’s going on, how Harry is kind of persistently fucking up, saved at the last minute by his friends, kept true by his goodness, how Ron is happy to be there (admittedly Ron should have been in the story more) and the warmth that he brings to them all – Harry and Hermione are significantly unhappier in the alternative future where Ron and her aren’t together.

    I would have loved to have seen more characters, but I think that would have made the story feel more like fan fiction itself, than the self-aware commentary about fan fiction. By not having more of the old characters, the story was kept focused on Albus and Scorpius, both great characters (but I LOVED Scorpius).

    ‘The Cursed Child’ is intentionally ambiguous. Love it – whereas all the other book titles where of proper objects or people who are clearly defined, because they take place in a time when the main characters are younger, and things are more clearly defined, the title of this one is vaguer, broader, can apply to everyone, because adult life and parenting is where you truly have to follow a route without a road map, when everything becomes more complicated, more nuanced, darker and lighter at the same time. And it works in relation to the story as well – when they all defeat Delphi, Harry says “I’m not alone” and it’s poignant to me that all of the people you mentioned that the title could be referring to, are in that scene. All of them, except for Delphi, are relying on each other, are a part of a team, are in troubled and complicated relationships, and felt cursed/neglected/unwanted/wrong as children.

    The only thing I have a problem with that I agree with you on is Voldemort being Delphi’s father. That feels like actual fanfic. I would have liked him to be more of a metaphorical father (much as Hitler was), this being a lie that Delphi was told by Death Eater parents. This mainly being because I don’t think Voldemort fathering a child for ambition or furthering his legacy fits him – he had horcruxes! There are loads of ways and reasons to have children, or to have sex, but none of them quite fit Voldemort to me. If he ever had sex, it would probably have been a rapey deal, but Bellatrix was too enamoured with him to not consent to him. THAT SAID, in the moment of reading the story (and I imagine, seeing it on stage) the reveal worked for me, and Delphi had real pathos, as evil as she was.

    Finally, I felt like Albus being sorted into Slytherin was obvious. He makes friends with Scorpius instantly, feels a bit rejected and abandoned by the status-obsessed Rose, and he chooses Slytherin in that moment, to be with someone he feels real kinship for. A wise decision? Probably not, given the bullying it subjects him to, but that’s how I read the text. As Albus choosing Slytherin. Maybe it’s performed differently onstage.


    1. Hmm interesting take. I certainly am not upset that there was more of Albus and Scorpius and I do agree that they capture essences of the original characters, but for me it still felt a bit like they hadn’t really developed much. J.K. Rowling and her writing are known for character development and it just sort of annoyed me that Harry was constantly irritable and pushing people away still.
      I dunno about the title. Again, in translating it to the stage maybe they wanted it to be more ambiguous. But for me it once again loses a bit of the Potter essence by not having a definite reference to something or someone specific. You could argue that it’s a different take on the books but considering the original author co-wrote the play, it just doesn’t make sense to remove that.
      Nope, I first thought him being sorted into Slytherin was a reference to where Harry might have gone if he hadn’t chosen Gryffindor. Then I wondered if that was a reference to Albus somehow inherited some part of Voldemort and hence the “dark cloud”. I don’t have a problem with Slytherin, just why he chose it.
      However like we’ve both stated. All said and done some of these elements might be more obviously conveyed once on stage.


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