Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Script vs. Stage
(This isn’t going to be spoiler-free for the plot, but it will be for the stage secrets. If you haven’t read the script then I would suggest clicking away now! Unless, of course, you just want to see if it’s worth watching.)
I had the pleasure of seeing the Cursed Child in London a few weeks ago, and it was absolutely stunning.
There is a lot of talk about this play in the Harry Potter fandom, and people are torn. Some love the play, but others hate it and compare it to phenomenal works of art such as the infamous My Immortal fan fiction. I, this time last year, was in the latter group.
I had read spoilers of the plot a few months before the script was released, and I thought that it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever read, and that it couldn’t be true. But when I got my copy of the script in August 2016, I realised that the spoilers were completely accurate. I then stopped reading five scenes in.
You might be asking, “Why did you bother wasting your money on the play, then?”. Well, I was on holiday in America when I found out our London friends had managed to get us all (them and my family) tickets, so I hadn’t actually read the script at that point. I was worried, to say the least, when it came to seeing the play, because I thought I would hate it and feel that it was a waste of money.
However, the play itself is fantastic. I think if you were viewing it as an outsider to the Harry Potter world, it would be a 10/10, no hesitation. But as a hard-core fan, I saw some parts that I didn’t like. But even so, it’s still something like an 8.5/10 to me.
The parts of the plot that I found ridiculous were:
- Cedric becoming a Death Eater because he lost the Triwizard Tournament
- Hermione becoming a Snape-like character simply because she doesn’t marry Ron
- Ginny in general
- Harry being mean to Albus
- Harry’s scared of pigeons?
- Oh, and the big one, Voldemort had sex with Bellatrix?!
Anyone who has read the books will know why those things are an issue. I can see why Ginny was portrayed as a nervous, over protective, Molly Weasley type mother, because she isn’t portrayed right in the films either. But everything else felt so out-of-place and wrong to me, because I know these characters, and they wouldn’t do or say the things that they did in the play. People can use the excuse that, “They’ve grown up!” all they like, but to me, their core values wouldn’t change over time, or because they didn’t get what they wanted.
There are other parts of the plot that some people pointed out were wrong, but I think some of those are examples of how badly the story can get translated onto the page. Plays are meant to be seen, not read, so it’s understandable how things got mixed up. For example, at one point in the play Harry says something akin to, “Sometimes I wish you weren’t my son!” to Albus. From that alone, of course it’s not something Harry would say. But within the context, and the emotion of the scene, it makes much more sense. It was said in anger, and Harry apologises almost immediately.
Another part some people were annoyed at was the queer baiting of Albus and Scorpius. I didn’t completely understand this, because I didn’t read the entire script. Their relationship seemed entirely friendly to me, although perhaps I could see a small romantic spark between them. However, when I went back to the script, I saw that in the stage directions Scorpius is shown as being jealous of Albus and Delphi’s relationship because of hidden feelings about Albus. I was really surprised when I read that, because it did not come across on stage at all. I’d agree that, in the script itself, it is pretty much queer baiting, but I promise it doesn’t seem that way when you’re watching.
Other than those small plot points, the play was wonderful. The actors are very talented, and worked so well together. Scorpius was by far my, and the whole audience’s, favourite character. He was so enthusiastic and sarcastic it was hard not to like him. The staging and costume were also phenomenal; some of the stage tricks looked like real magic, and the audience would gasp in wonder at it all. I really think that the story is depicted so much better on stage than on paper, and I would definitely recommend going (especially if you love theatre, like me).
I still don’t consider the play part of Harry Potter canon, because it wasn’t written by J.K. Rowling, and it doesn’t portray the characters accurately enough. But equally well, I don’t consider the films canon, because they’re just adaptations. I see the Cursed Child as an adaptation of the books, with an imagination of what would happen afterwards.
What are your thoughts on the play?