It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.
This review contains spoilers!
I'm just going to say it: This is not book 8, this is fanfiction.
Hold up! That's not necessarily a bad thing. I happen to love fanfiction. Yes, much of it is terribly written, but some of it isn't so bad. Some of it is imaginative and wonderful. Cursed Child falls into the latter category.
Why is it fan fiction? Well, it's not entirely written by J.K. Rowling for starters, but even more of a reason is that it doesn't feel like Harry Potter at all. It's more mature, deals with the very adult theme of parenting, and after the first scene (which is the epilogue of book 7), it's missing that whimsical charm that the original series has. And I'm actually okay with all this. I like that the play takes on its own style, rather than relying on ripping off the source material.
It's fanfiction also because, unfortunately, the writing isn't as good. This is especially true for Ron's character. Who thought turning him into such a joke was a good idea? I've never loved Ron, and even I found his character so disappointing.
The plot could've been tighter. Ms. Rowling can throw a million different plot points at us, and then weave it all together so cleanly, leaving no loose ends. It's actually incredible. Cursed Child attempts this, but falls short. Especially the later half of the play. Bellatrix had Voldemort's baby? Harry transfigures into Voldemort? The trolly cart woman is a demon? What?!? I would love to see this on stage, to see if the story's pacing works better. And for the special effects and to see how the adult actors portray Harry and Hermione (not so much Ron, because the script kind of fucked him up).
One final thought, I completely disagree with people who say Harry isn't believable as a struggling father. His father figures have all either died on him or abandoned him. His upbringing was spent enduring horrendous abuse, and our childhood shapes so much of who we are. Harry is brave and capable, but that doesn't make him qualified to be a good father. He's not completely incompetent either. Ultimately, Harry's responsible as the adult in their relationship, but Albus is often seen pushing Harry away.
Also remember that NINETEEN years have passed. Do you honestly expect these characters to be in the same emotional place? I would sincerely hope they've changed since then. If they hadn't, something's wrong.
I prefer to think of this as professionally published fanfiction as opposed to canon, because it's so different from the series and, well, it's kind of sad to think that Harry, Ron, and Hermione's lives are still so difficult.
But, you know, I had fun. That's a good enough reason for me to return to this world.