Let’s get this straight: I am a Potterhead. I have loved all things Potter since I first read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone when I was 10, and nothing can ever diminish the love I have for the series.
This is probably why reading Harry Potter and the Cursed Child left me confused. It was a fun read for the most part, but it also felt as though I was thumbing through the pages of elaborate fanfiction, complete with awkward hugs and a handful of inconsistencies. (Editor’s Note: The Cursed Child is the script of the two-part play that’s running at the Palace Theater in London until December 2017.)
It might have had to do with the characters. A new one, Scorpius Malfoy, is all at once intelligent, kind, loyal, funny. He makes mistakes but tries to correct them, and Albus (Harry’s son) relies on him to keep his loneliness at bay, just as young Harry relied on Ron and Hermione to keep him positive during summers at Privet Drive. Except that Scorpius is a Slytherin—and his character just doesn’t quite fit in with what’s been built as an archetypal Slytherin student in the novels.
And then there’s old Ron, who didn’t seem quite like his old (younger) self. In the original series, he was Harry’s loyal sidekick and best friend. His insecurities made him awkward and goofy, but his desire to prove himself allowed him to grow into a strong and self-reliant wizard.
In this script, Ron serves as mere comic relief—the funny uncle who tells lame jokes, plays with the kids, and who can be overly affectionate with his wife. His friendship with Harry is implied but the two are rarely seen in conversation. And nothing seems to happen with Ron when Hermione isn’t around.
Where is the Ron who was Harry’s roommate, who rescued him from the Dursleys in a flying car, became a Prefect, won the Quidditch Cup, and left his family to hunt for Horcruxes with Harry? Surely funny, ol’ Uncle Ron could still be a badass, even if he never got to use the Time Turner?
Speaking of Time Turners, as fantastic as it could be to see time travel and other magical feats on stage, the Time Turners in The Cursed Child don’t quite match how these were described and used in the novels. In the original series, Time Turners worked in such a way that whatever the wearer does while using the device is already a part of their timeline to begin with. In Cursed Child, the misadventures of Albus and Scorpius begin when they find a Time Turner and they go to the past to alter the present.
This new and improved Time Turner—which somehow exists after all Time Turners were rendered useless in the original Potter story — seems to only exist because the plot relies heavily on the two boys’ ability to travel to the past and change their present realities.
But perhaps what made it feel most like a fan-made reimagining of the Harry Potter series and its characters is how evil had resurfaced in this world. The new villain in The Cursed Child is the mysterious child of Voldemort. It’s dubious that Voldemort did have a child, but even if he did, one can’t help but wonder: why did this character still have to be so bad?
Nineteen years after Voldemort’s defeat, couldn’t evil have come from somewhere other than the Dark Lord?
All of that said, one still wonders what it would be like to see the play—to see the actors’ interpretations of their characters, to witness all the stage effects, and to watch the characters I grew up with come together to overcome evil once more (no matter how cliché).
Maybe watching, instead of reading the script to, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, with the added magic of theater will make this Potterhead feel like all is well in this universe once more.
Bianca Ma. Guerrero graduated with a degree in AB Literature from the Ateneo de Manila University, and currently works at Shopee Philippines.