“The Cursed Child” – J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany

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In this brilliantly crafted play we get to experience an eighth story in the Harry Potter universe. Continuing from King’s Cross Station nineteen years later the story explores Albus Severus Potter’s first years at Hogwarts. Written as a stage play the formatting strays from the original novels bringing not only a fresh story but also a fresh approach.

I usually avoid writing reviews/opinions/posts that include spoilers but for this one I am making an exception. So if you don’t want any information about the play other than “It’s about Harry’s kid and Jo helped write it” then this is where you should leave. Summary: it’s a good play. You should read it.

Now, for my meat and potatoes review. I really enjoyed this play. Honestly. I thought it was different, fun (in that painful kind of way only fandoms can really explore), and I was so downright excited to have fresh Potter material from Jo Rowling that I would have read the words “Harry Potter” repeated across 300 pages and thought it was the best book ever. I read this book the night it came out (Midnight on July 31st for those of you under rocks). As you may have noticed it has been almost a month and this is the first I’m posting about it. I wanted it to digest and simmer and sit for a minute before I went on about it. I wanted to give people a chance to read it. I wanted to give myself a chance to take it in and read it again (yes I’ve read it twice now, stop judging). After having read it, sat with it, thought about it, processed it, talked about it with friends/family, I have to say firstly I wish I had seen it performed. I would love to see how the characters are brought to life in this play; how the dynamics of these heroes that we have known and loved for years translates into adulthood. I would love to see the second generation exploring their world and growing into their own. Additionally, my instinct is to want this play as a book. I’ve read many a play in my day but I still do prefer books to plays. But I think it’s probably best this wasn’t a book. I think the concept wouldn’t necessarily translate well into prose.

I would never question Rowling on her choices. All I knew from the characters before this play was information Rowling had already given. I just… I didn’t feel like this was her play. It felt like a fanfiction to me. It felt like there were a few fan servicing moments (the Scorpious/Rose dynamic for example, the Slytherin Al, Bella/Voldy). Slytherin Al of course was crucial to the plot of the whole play and I’m completely fine with that. (As I am with Bella and Voldemort; another critical aspect to the play). The addition of Cedric being a catalyst was something I both loved and found forced. I love that Cedric was this turning point in everything (because he was. I mean, “The Goblet of Fire” is arguably the literal turning point of the entire series – others would argue that PoA was but that’s a post for another day). I love that depending on the outcome of Cedric the whole universe could change. Cedric could become a Death Eater! Cedric could still die anyway. Rebels would still exist. I only found it forced because as a very proud Hufflepuff we often get brushed aside as “the leftovers” house or “the weak” house or “yellow” and it makes me super mad. I think I’m a bit sensitive to any time someone tries to use a Hufflepuff as a plot device. Even our Queen. So part of me worried that they were only using Cedric because Jo wanted to prove something about Hufflepuff’s. But the more I thought about it the more I realized it wouldn’t have really worked any other way and I was just being guarded/defensive. I’ve gotten off on a tangent. Despite the fanfiction feeling I’m completely fine with all of it. I wish I could be more articulate in what I’m trying to explain. There was just something… unpolished? about it. It just didn’t feel like Jo. I’m not sure if it was the additional writers or the fact that it was play based so the whole formula is different. I’ve read a lot of second gen fanfics and this just felt like a better written one. The one scene where Al had to kiss Hermione was so awkward. I understand plot wise what was happening but it just made me cringe. There were just a few elements that I wasn’t in love with; which was hard for me to accept since I have always loved absolutely everything Potter regardless of what it is. I think it just … I loved it; but I was expecting that feeling of Hogwarts on September 1st, and instead I kind of got Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida.

I do want to praise a few things as well. I’ve already touched on Cedric and his plot line that I loved the idea that one event can just switch a person. I love the idea of how our lives are shaped by singular events and if just enough happens, or that one final straw is added our whole worlds can flip. Cedric: nice, compassionate, friendly, outgoing, sweet, having a really horrendous fourth year and bam! Death Eater! It seems far fetched but we don’t know what else happened in that AU world; what else made him angry, and aggressive, and twisted. That aspect of human nature is just so cool to me. I loved the Voldemort child concept. Honestly it was a bit deus ex machina (who even knew you could have children after being a literal wisp of nothing and regrowing a body in a cauldron of your enemy’s blood) but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great twist. I love how sneaky Delphi was – I love that she targeted Albus (after unsuccessfully targeting Harry) because what better way to make your enemy pay for murdering your family than ripping his family apart? I love Scorpius. His character was adorable and everything I think Draco always wanted to be but was too afraid to. I love everything about Scorpius. I loved Albus. I think even though Slytherin Albus was a bit of an obvious choice (but again absolutely critical to the plot) I think Albus’ character was a perfect blend of Ginny and Harry. He was an downright thoughtless idiot, like our beloved Harry, but he did it in a selfish way (which calls to his Slytherin nature perhaps?). I mean, think about it, in Philosopher’s Stone Dumbledore makes it very clear that if Harry grew up with everyone praising him he’d be an asshole (yea Dumbledore is more articulate than I am, I get that), but it’s not that dissimilar here. Al was reminded every day from the second he was born that his dad was Harry Freaking Potter. The Boy Who Lived. The Chosen One. The Hero Who Defeated The Dark Lord. And if that weren’t enough to boot his mom was part of this legendary alliance to Dumbledore’s Army, she was a former professional Quidditch player and sports editor for The Daily Prophet. In case that wasn’t enough for young Al to feel bad about his Aunt was Minster of Magic. I mean, talk about a tough act to follow. Al didn’t have an affinity for Quidditch, wasn’t insanely smart… he was a proverbial black sheep. And it makes sense that he didn’t bother telling the hat he didn’t want to be Slytherin (after all at least he’d have Scorpius in Slytherin), and I think, like Harry, he wanted to rebel a little. He wanted to prove he was his own person and not just “Harry Potters son” just like Harry never wanted to be “The Boy Who Lived” they’re so different and so alike. I think Jo crafted Albus perfectly and I am so happy with his character. Additionally I love the AU’s. All of the time-turning and back and forth; the what could have been’s and the never-will’s. So fascinating to me. The time-travel/space time continuum stuff  is just boggling to me but I really do love reading stories that involve it. (Also was it just me or was there some UST in that Rebel Hermione/ Rogue Snape AU?).

The story didn’t allow for us to see much of James, Lily, Rose, Hugo, but I would love to see more of that; how Al interacts with his brother and sister during holiday, what family dinners look like. I think the familial aspect is fascinating and because the formula of the play was driven by the Delphi storyline we don’t really get to see any of that external family dynamic which leaves you with that thirst of wanting more.

Like I said, I loved this play. I hope it comes to Broadway so I have even a small chance of seeing it. I loved having a new Potter book that was fresh and different. I loved being able to feel like I was in the world again with words actually crafted by the Queen herself. Going to the midnight release, feeling the energy of the Potterheads, seeing new young Potter fans getting excited. . . It makes me so emotional just knowing there’s this whole big family of Witches and Wizards in the world and that the story lives on every time the pages are turned.

After waiting 9 years for a new book (Pottermore has been a great appetizer but I believe the whole fandom was definitely ready for another main course) I’m not sure anything could have lived up to that anticipation. That being said, I think this play was great for what it was, and I don’t think it could have been done any other way. Happy reading.

Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.

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