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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

August 22, 2016

I had half an hour at the gate and then an hour-long flight from Columbus to Raleigh-Durham NC and I read the script of both parts of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in that time. It was pretty entertaining, just right for a short flight.

Already on page 34 there is a mention of necromancy (by any other name, but let’s call the desire to go back in time to resurrect someone from the dead what it is). A long-bereaved father appeals to Harry, asking “how many people have died for the Boy Who Lived? I’m asking you to save one of them.”

The action of the play centers on alternate universes created by Harry’s son Albus and Draco’s son Scorpius who are (surprise!) best friends in the universe where the play begins and ends. Scorpius is always having to react to rumors that he is not Draco’s son, but Voldemort’s. Albus is always having to react to people who treat him as his father’s son more than a person in his own right. Together, the two boys live up to their faith in each other, while separately it seems they might drown amid the false expectations of others. At one point, Scorpius says
“I know the–Voldemort thing isn’t–true–and–you know–but sometimes, I think I can see my dad thinking: How did I produce this?”
And Albus replies
“Still better than my dad. I’m pretty sure he spends most of his time thinking: How can I give him back?”

As Walker said to us, after finishing reading the script about 2 am on the night of its midnight release, some of the characters don’t sound quite right. The funniest instance of this is when Ron offers to be the one to transform into Voldemort:
“I mean, it won’t be–exactly nice being Voldemort–but without wishing to blow my own trumpet–I am probably the most chilled out of all of us and . . .so maybe transfiguring into him–into the Dark Lord–will do less damage to me than–any of you more–intense–people.”

But as fanfic authors, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne do create some new voices for the progeny of the famous trio (Hermione and Ron’s daughter has a peripheral part). I like the way the less-famous sons playfully aggrandize each other. At one point Scorpius says:
“Turns out Malfoy the Unanxious is a pretty good liar.”
And a minute later:
“Only you and I have experienced how dangerous this is, that means you and I have to destroy it. No one can do what we did, Albus. No one. No (slightly grandly) it’s time that time-turning became a thing of the past.”
Albus: “You’re quite proud of that phrase, aren’t you?”
Scorpius: “Been working on it all day.”

There’s a self-indulgent scene in which portrait Dumbledore admits to Harry that he loves him, has always loved him, that reads like fan wish fulfillment.

However, I was extremely glad to get to Harry’s line about how he hasn’t been a good parent. In this age of Mama Mia-style Baby Boomers trying to always stay on center stage, it’s refreshing to hear a character say:
“We have both tried to give our sons, not what they needed, but what we needed.”

Maybe it’s time for the Harry Potter generation to start writing some of their own plays and stories.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. August 22, 2016 11:37 am

    I am so on the fence about reading this. I feel satisfied with the books as they are and don’t know if I want to revisit that world. It sounds like you were pleased (I think?) with the play/book?

    • August 22, 2016 4:09 pm

      I was entertained by it. It’s not like they made Dumbledore into a racist or anything…

  2. August 23, 2016 8:55 pm

    I’m probably going to give this a miss unless I can see it performed — nobody who’s read-not-seen it has had anything particularly rave-ish to say about it, and I’d rather have a clear ending on the Harry Potter world than watch it peter out sadly. Always leave the party when you’re still having fun, is my motto.

    (Also, I know people who will recommend me Harry Potter fanfic every day for the rest of my life, if I want to read more stories in this universe that JK Rowling didn’t write herself. So there’s that.)

    • August 23, 2016 8:57 pm

      Yes, Eleanor had a lot to say about (among other things) how very common the fanfic tropes they picked for this play are.

  3. August 24, 2016 3:34 pm

    Hmm, yeah, I think I will skip this. I don’t feel compelled to read HP continuation stories, I am quite satisfied with how Rowling left it. Do you think you will be going to see the play some time?

    • August 24, 2016 3:41 pm

      I would love to! I’m always up for a play, but besides the four or so shows a year by college students and the occasional national tour that comes through Columbus, we don’t get to see a lot of theater in the middle of Ohio.

  4. August 26, 2016 11:53 am

    I’d see it performed if it’s showing here (I have no clue) but will likely pass on the book. I didn’t finish the written series but the last film finished it all pretty well. I wasn’t aware it was a fanfic deal as such.

    • August 31, 2016 11:08 am

      Charlie, I think the play will be performed in London for a few more months. It will probably be a few more years until a tour comes to even the big cities in this country.

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