19 years later: I’m still mad about the Cursed Child

Today marks the day when Albus Severus Potter first boarded the Hogwarts Express.

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The scar had not pained Harry for nineteen years. All was well.

These are the cruellest last lines in the history of literature, because they are a lie. While all was indeed well when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was first published in 2007, it only took nine years for it to become spectacularly un-well again. Harry’s scar may not have hurt – but the hearts and minds of Potter fans everywhere trembled with pain upon the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child last year.

It goes without saying that HP&tCC is a good play (or rather, two good plays). They are big-budget technical masterpieces with top-rate actors and arresto momentum-ing visual effects. Theatrically, they are top notch. But HP&tCC is a bad Harry Potter play – and that is a crucial difference.

Today (1 September 2017) marks the exact date in the epilogue of Harry Potter that itself marks the start of HP&tCC. From now onwards, there is no going back from the canon (oh were it not so) hijinks of Albus Severus Potter, Scorpius Malfoy, and Voldemort’s child, Ebony Dark’ness Dementia Raven Way. Much has been made of how the fan fiction-esque plot destroyed an otherwise enjoyable piece of theatre, and little more needs to be said. I’m going to say it anyway.

CEDRIC DIGGORY WOULD NEVER HAVE BECOME A DEATH EATER.

THE TROLLEY WITCH IS NOT THE THE SECRET LOVE CHILD OF THE CHILD CATCHER AND SALAD FINGERS.

THE BRAVEST (AND MOST POTTY-WEE-POTTER-HATING) MAN I EVER KNEW WOULD NEVER SAY: “TELL ALBUS SEVERUS I'M PROUD HE CARRIES MY NAME”.

In fairness to Cursed Child, the plot does introduce some great new characters. Scorpius, Albus’s romantic partner (I-can’t-hear you-this-is-the-only-true-interpretation-of-the-play-please-do-not-test-me) is spectacularly funny and endearing. There’s another new guy, Severus Snape, who seems like a really kooky, gentle-hearted fellow – along with Albus Dumbledore, a never-before-seen infallible old wizard willing to open up his heart and sob in front of The Boy Who Lived. What’s that? These are age old Harry Potter characters? I think you will find they’re not.  

Leaving aside that Ronald Weasley appears to have been replaced by Roonil Wazlib (upon learning he has children in an alternate timeline, he exclaims “I expect their mother is hot”), by far the worst thing HP&tCC did was mess with time travel. In doing so, it messed with everything that came before. I am not especially mad at the new ways JK Rowling decided to move her story forward (it’s up to her to decide if Voldemort fucks, I guess) but she destroyed her own canon by going repeatedly back in time to pander to the audience’s nostalgia.

Every time I reread Goblet of Fire, I am supposed to imagine that Cedric Diggory met Albus Potter in a maze and was just like “huh cool” when the child-with-a-striking-resemblance-to-Harry-Potter announced “Your dad loves you very much”. In the end, after all this, am I not the cursed child?

It’s not just that time travel in the plot panders to the audience in a very sickly way (Snape was good! Dumbledore wuvs Harry!), it’s that it destroys the logic of time travel established in Prisoner of Azkaban. JK Rowling herself used to admit that she approached the subject of time travel “too light-heartedly” but imposed limits on herself to ensure this didn’t make her universe fall apart. Cursed Child undoes all of this. All the time turners are gone – except this one! Oh by the way, it’s MORE magic than previous time turners! That one’s disappeared? Don’t worry, here’s another! It’s even magical-er, too!

Craig Bowker Jr did not die for this.

At the end of the day, it is clear why JK Rowling agreed to co-create Harry’s “eighth story” – and allowed it to be branded as such. The two plays have raised a spectacular amount of money for Lumos, Rowling’s non-profit that helps orphaned children, and they’ve undoubtedly brought joy to hundreds (not a typo lol) of Harry Potter fans. I am not one of them. I am still mad.*

*I love you JK Rowling though please do not be mad at me, thank you.