I received a copy of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for my birthday from Grandmother, and was admittedly a little apprehensive about reading it. I had avoided the spoilers, but the majority of the reviews I had seen were pretty negative. I didn’t want to it to ruin my love for JK Rowling and the world of Harry Potter, but I eventually decided that while my opinion of Rowling might change, nothing would ever diminish the joy and sense of belonging I felt when I first read the books. So, with my guard down and an open mind, I dived into the Cursed Child screenplay.
Right off the bat, people are being far too harsh. The Harry Potter fan base is so incredibly hyped up and set in its ways, that anything that wasn’t written as a collaborative effort by the fans was going to disappoint some people. I also imagine that Cursed Child is much better when seen on stage. A lot of the tension is lost in a screenplay as opposed to actually seeing it, as many of the descriptive aspects of a book are instead found in the set, which is obviously lacking in a screenplay.
However, I had read that the plot was contrived and lacking in any real substance, but it was far better than I expected. Yes, it was dependent upon some pretty unlikely circumstances, but that’s the case in basically all of the Harry Potter books. Coincidence, both fortunate and unfortunate, is the driving force of many plots, and I didn’t think that Cursed Child’s plot was particularly forced.
One thing that did seem a little strained was a budding relationship between two of the characters, when in fact the two main characters seemed far more attracted to each other and a romantic relationship would have made far more sense there. There were one or two occasions where I raised a disapproving eyebrow and thought to myself that I wouldn’t have written it that way, but the reality of the situation is that I didn’t write it, and probably wouldn’t have done a good job if I had.
As to whether or not Cursed Child is canon, I’d say that you can decide for yourself. There’s a lot of time related misadventures, so the writers have given fans a get-out clause as you can in good conscience consider it as occurring in a separate timeline to the rest of the books and the previous “19 Years Later” chapter at the end of Deathly Hallows.
I enjoyed Cursed Child, and still want to see it in the theatre and hopefully will get the chance to at some point. It’s no work of genius, but likely works better as it was intended to: on the stage. Most of all, people need to calm down. It’s not perfect, but it was never going to be. Chill, people.