With a full-page color ad in the New York Times proclaiming “Harry’s Back!” the newest story about the Boy Who Lived was released Sunday July, 31st. Branded as the “Special Rehearsal Edition Script,” Harry Potter and the Cursed Child contains the text of the new play about Harry Potter and his relationship with his son Albus Severus. The play officially premiered in London’s West End on July 31st, and there have been rumors of a possible production coming to Broadway as well. Some fans have been wary of the play, worrying that it won’t live up to the beloved books. Others have been eager for any additional Potter-related writing J.K. Rowling produces. Without further ado, here are two Geekettes’ thoughts on the play.
First off, I have to say that as intense as it was, this play had me laughing more than it had me crying. I’ll try not to spoil any plot points in my review but I will talk about characters, so if you haven’t finished reading yet, be warned.
I fell in love with Scorpius right away. Self-proclaimed geek and definitive book-nerd, Draco’s son would fit right in here at DG. He’s sort of both the “Hermione” and “Ron” to angsty Albus’s “Harry,” bringing both knowledge and self-deprecating humor. He is more than just the side-kick though; Scorpius and Albus co-star in this story, as both of them struggle with the burden of their famous (or infamous) fathers.
The character I was most impressed by, however, was Ginny. Ginny always struck me as a character with great complexity, which we only saw glimpses of in the books, and for that reason, she was my favorite. (See one of our most popular posts, on book Ginny versus movie Ginny) If Ron always felt overshadowed by his older brothers and Harry, imagine how Ginny felt, outshined by them all, plus Ron. Always left behind, never included, Ginny faced a traumatic event in her first year, but it was not until the 7th book while the trio were away that she got to take a leadership role in the fight against evil (though her story was relegated to the background). I was worried about how she would be portrayed as an adult, as a wife and mother; would she still be left at home to fret? Would she serve only to sooth Harry’s angst but not to take action?
Luckily, I was not disappointed. Although the primary conflict is between father and son, Ginny makes her presence felt, guides and stands up to Harry, and is there in the thick of the action. She won’t let him keep her in the dark, guessing the truth when Harry tries to shield her from his nightmares. Harry even points out that perhaps what makes Albus so different from himself is that he takes more after his mother, describing them both as “bold, fierce, funny.”
While we’re talking about formidable female characters, let me just say there is a certain warrior side of Hermione that I would have really liked to explore more, or at least see on stage, even if it was not meant to be. As Minister for Magic, she is powerful but still herself (though you would think she would have a tighter grasp on security, especially after everything she got up to as a teenager). Headmistress McGonagall is as regal as ever, with a really touching scene that shows the students of Hogwarts as the children she never had. And then there’s Delphi. And that’s all I can say about that.
So what’s my general conclusion? A friend on facebook pointed out that the play reads a bit like fanfiction. I have to agree that it did seem certain magical objects were brought back for convenience and characters and scenes were revisited for nostalgia. But it really does a good job of exploring some complex relationships among flawed-but-still-loveable characters. In short, I enjoyed reading it. We all had nine years to build up our own dreams and expectations of what the wizarding world was like after that final “All was well.” This latest addition is bound to clash with some of that. But whatever your feelings on this new development, I hope we can all at least celebrate that the magic of our generation is alive and well and will never stop being relevant.
I have mixed feelings about calling Cursed Child the eighth Harry Potter book, but it is definitely a new Potter story and one I enjoyed so much that I stayed up until 3am reading it in one sitting. The advantage of a script, after all, is that you can read it much faster than a novel that is hundreds of pages long. The downside of a script is that really–it’s meant to be performed. I really wished I could see Cursed Child on stage, both for the acting and the special effects, because neither is fully realized by the script alone. The story comes through, but some of the details and heart are missing.
What The Cursed Child does well is weave together the struggles of an older generation that lived through a traumatic war, and a younger generation that doesn’t fully grasp some of what their parents faced. Harry grew up without a father, and despite the many father figures he had over the original seven books, he’s still struggling with how to be a parent to Albus Severus, the only one of his three children to be placed into Slytherin instead of Gryffindor. Lingering grudges are visible when Harry becomes suspicious of and tries to end the friendship between Albus and Scorpius Malfoy. The two boys had become fast friends under the weight of their fathers’ legacies. Albus Severus’ teenage angst reminded me a lot of Harry’s angst in the later books, and was very believable. Meanwhile Scorpius Malfoy is my new favorite character in the Potterverse and if I were 12 again, I would 100% start writing myself into a fanfic with him. He is funny and smart and an amazing friend to Albus.
As this was the “rehearsal edition script,” I am curious whether there were any changes (significant or otherwise) made to the production while it was in previews. This Hypable article (with mild plot spoilers) discusses one thing I had noticed, which was a missed opportunity for some LGBTQ representation to make its way into the canon. Some of the grown-up versions of the original cast also felt a little underdeveloped but that may have been partly lost in only reading the script and not seeing it on stage. On the whole, I enjoyed reading The Cursed Child, and I’m glad we were given this change to meet some of the next generation of wizards. I just wish there was a way for Potter fans everywhere to see the stage production, instead of only reading the script and seeing the handful of photos that have been released.
Have you read The Cursed Child yet? What did you think? Tell us in the comments!