Thursday, August 04, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (minor spoilers ahead)

I got home from teaching my class yesterday early in the afternoon to find this sitting on our table. I squealed.
Whatever I had planned for the afternoon (laundry, expenses, basic house maintenance, making zucchini bread and carrot soup, working on this project I've putting off all summer, YOU KNOW) went out the window.  I was going to read this screenplay and that was that.

I love Harry Potter. It's well documented here, so I won't remind you of my love, but just know that  my suicide plan for the zombie apocalypse is pills and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.  Rick and Carl will find my body comfortably tucked into bed with HP on my chest.

So I was SO EXCITED when this showed up. (I hadn't ordered it. I was going to wait to see if someone would get it for me for my birthday, which is coming up in a couple of weeks. However, Dr. BB knew how pumped up I was, so he ordered it from Amazon and I just couldn't bring myself to put off reading it a moment longer.)  Minor spoiler: the play picks up where the epilogue of Deathly Hallows left off. 

I had a conversation with my friend Nick about the screenplay and here are the main points we discussed.

1) I had no idea what the screenplay was about and was completely unspoiled, so it was almost like getting my copy of Half-Blood Prince in the mail. The font and, page thickness, cover art, and everything was very nostalgic. We both enjoyed the experience of holding it in our hands and reading it very much.

2) Neither of us is a big fan of the Harry/Ginny or Ron/Hermione relationships for a variety of reasons. Nick enjoyed watching the co-parenting dynamics, but as a non-parent, I could have cared less about that and I still don't understand the dynamics at work in those relationships. How could Hermione deal with Ron's idiocy for so many years? How can Harry not see how milquetoast Ginny is?  Anyway, we do see these characters and there are some interesting moments in the play with them, but the play is definitely misnamed. Harry Potter is not a central character. It's about two other characters (and I have a lot to say about them, but I won't for right now because SPOILERS).

3) Time travel is a major element of the play. I find this problematic, but Nick enjoyed it. Enter at your own risk.

4) Seeing some of our beloved characters again is so comforting. Yes, I get that there's a fan fiction element to the whole thing, but it was so thrilling to see Professor McGonagall and some of the others (I won't give away who we see).  The epilogue in Deathly Hallows didn't truly answer our questions about what happened to some of our most favorite people in the wizarding world and this relieved some of my worries.  (And created more.)

5) There was some Order of the Phoenix level angst in this novel and I really felt it. In the same way that it's not fun to reread Order, it wasn't fun to read about the emotional tumult here, but it was powerful.  I kept repeating "this is so sad" out loud for the first 70 pages. 

6) My biggest gripe is the villain of the story. I don't want to give anything away, but it seemed lazy. Nick and I both agreed on that. Rowling is attempting to undo some of the Slytherin animosity in this book, but she undermines all that work with her villain. It was disappointing to me.

7) I don't know if I'll be obligated to reread this screenplay the way I reread the original seven books. But I would definitely like to see it live. I'm starting to plant some seeds in Dr. BB's head that our 10th wedding anniversary will be in 2018 and wouldn't that be a nice time to go to London?!?!

If you're a Harry Potter fan, you have to read this, although you might be able to wait until you can get it for free from your library.  You may like it; you might not. But you'll have to read it to be a completist, right? If you've never read HP, don't read this and don't go to the play. It just won't make sense to you. 

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