If you’ve been living under a rock, then you wouldn’t know that there have been a lot of Harry Potter material that has been published in the past two months. And being the Harry Potter trash that I am, I pre-ordered everything. And I had lots of feelings, mainly about Cursed Child. So without further ado, here are those thoughts.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – 3 stars
I’m not sure how I feel.
I want to preface this with the fact that I was very aware that this is a play that was not written by J.K. Rowling before I started to read it. I don’t have any issues with the format. Though I have issues with the nature of the play – I’ll explain that a little later.
I’m not sure how I’m going to frame this review since I have a lot of thoughts. And the more I think and talk about the play, the more problems I am having with it. I think the easiest way to format this review is to go over the characters, then the plot, and then the staging? I don’t know.
-Albus: I get that he was having to deal with living in the shadow of being Harry Potter’s son. I do. And I understand that in many respects, he had it harder than Harry did because Albus grew up in the wizarding world knowing full well who his father was while Harry did not. And I understand that he was given shit for being Slytherin. But I just became increasingly frustrated with his decisions throughout the play. There was a reason why the Time-Turners were all destroyed and why Harry was so reluctant to go mess with time, yet Albus didn’t even think about the consequences. He just needed to prove to Harry that he was worthy. I also didn’t get why he only focused on the fact that he has two cousins, not one, during the alternate realities where Hermione and Ron weren’t married. I just. I was frustrated.
-Scorpius: Well, I have a new son. I love him to bits and pieces. I was thoroughly surprised by just how wonderful and pure he is and I will protect him until the day I die.
-Rose: I was most disappointed in Rose. She was a bit of a…well, a bitch. I have a very hard time believing that she is the child of Ron and Hermione. Yes, she is an over-achiever who is both smart and good at Quidditch, but to basically be all “Oh, you want to be friends with Scorpius Malfoy? Oh, you’re a Slytherin? You are dead to me,” to Albus was just appalling. Yes, there were times where Ron didn’t talk to Harry (especially during Goblet of Fire). But, like, you understood his motivations (such as always being second best and having to live up to the pressures of being the youngest brother and all of that) and knew in your heart that he and Harry would make up because there was no way that they couldn’t be best friends. But Rose was just mean. And the only reason why she spoke to Albus later was because her mother told her to. Not because she wanted to. She had some of her parents in her, but not enough for me to even remotely like her.
-Draco: To quote my friend, Chelsea: Who would have thought that Draco Malfoy is a better father than Harry Potter? I mean, really. He genuinely cared about Scorpius. He cared so much about Scorpius’s happiness that he was willing to look past the fact that Albus is Harry’s son simply because he saw that Albus made Scorpius happy. And yes, he probably should have disclosed his information about the 2nd Time Turner that Lived (I’ll grumble about this later) a bit earlier, but overall, he did what he thought was best for Scorpius. He finally got the redemption he deserved.
-Ron: I am so sick of people characterizing Ron as the comedic relief. He is so much more than that. He is the one who remained calm during the Devil’s Snare scene. He is the one who threw himself in between Sirius and Harry when they thought that Sirius was going to kill Harry. He was not the bumbling idiot that the movies, and now this play, made him out to be. He is much more than corny Dad jokes. He is not Fred, and it felt like the play was trying to make it so.
-Harry: Harry read almost as a second antagonist to me. There is absolutely NO way that he would ever tell his son that he wished that he was not that son’s father. I don’t care how antagonized he was. The Harry Potter I know and love would never ever utter those words and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. I just had so many problems with his characterization in this play. I realize that he is older and you change as you become a parent and all of that, but there were just so many times that I was like, “Huh?!” when it came to his actions. Especially when he went all Dictator on Albus, Ginny, and McGonagall in the alternate universe. I realize that it is an alternate universe, but still. My heart did break for him, though, when he watched his parents die. It was the only time in almost the entire play that I felt anything other than rage at what I was reading.
-Hermione: She was completely and totally under-utilized. And don’t even get me started on her becoming a bitter old spinster Defense Against the Dark Arts professor in the alternate universe where Ron and she don’t get married. Hermione Granger does not need Ron and her family to be happy (though I love that she is happy with them). She could’ve ended up single for all I care. But she would not be bitter about it. Also, I don’t know why, but I never saw her as Minister for Magic. Not that she isn’t badass enough to be one, but I always imagined her wanting to remain in magical law and working on getting equal rights for everyone, a la S.P.E.W. And maybe she can do that even more effectively as Minister for Magic, but yeah.
-Ginny: I never cared much for Ginny, but she was such a background character here and that upset me. Ginny never would’ve stood by and let Harry get away with what he said to Albus. She would’ve kicked his ass into next year. She was basically around just to make Harry feel better about himself. She lost almost all of her agency, and that really bothered me.
-Delphi: I just really don’t like her. She was boring. She was predictable. She was just. Nope.
-Cedric: Don’t even dare try to tell me that he would become a Death Eater and kill Neville Longbottom because he was humiliated one time. I am pretty ambivalent towards Cedric Diggory, but I will defend him to the death when it comes to his bravery, loyalty, and pure goodness. I don’t care if it was an alternate reality. CEDRIC DIGGORY IS AND NEVER WILL BE A DEATH EATER AND I WILL FIGHT ANYONE WHO SAYS OTHERWISE.
*McGonagall: Painfully under-utilized
*Snape: STOP TRYING TO MAKE SNAPE A HERO. STOP TRYING TO REDEEM HIM. I don’t want to read that he is proud that Albus has his name. I would’ve much rather had more time spent on Ron and Hermione learning about a world where Harry is still alive and they have children together and they are happy.
*Trolley Witch: What. The. Fuck. Was. That. Nonsense?
*Ludo Bagman: I forgot just how much I dislike him. He is even worse in the play.
Plot: Or where I write about all of the problems I had with the plot and what I found incredibly hard to swallow
-I refuse to believe that Bellatrix Lestrange and Voldemort have a child. I refuse to accept that Voldemort was able to have an orgasm. He is incapable of love. Hell, he is incapable of friendship. I know you don’t need either to have sex and make a baby, but I always read him as asexual and just not interested in that at all. Not to mention, HOW DID NO ONE NOTICE THAT BELLATRIX WAS ALL HUGE AND PREGNANT? The timeline makes absolutely no sense. Delphi was born sometime before the Battle of Hogwarts which means that the trio would’ve noticed either that Bellatrix was pregnant or had just given birth when they were at Malfoy Manor. Also, if either of those were the case, there would be no way that Bellatrix was physically up to torturing people. You don’t bounce back from giving birth that quickly.
-Again, I refuse to believe that Cedric is a Death Eater.
-The Time Turners were all destroyed for a reason. And it was bad enough that there was one. Why did there have to be a second ex machina Time Turner?
-I predicted that Delphi was behind wanting to save Cedric from the beginning. I didn’t think she was the child of Voldemort because I really didn’t think they would go there. It was all just so stupid.
-The train scene with the Trolley Witch was just too much.
-How exactly did they have Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s hair for the polyjuice potion to be able to sneak into the Ministry?
-That scene with Albus kissing his aunt (dressed as Ron, granted, but still) was a little more than disturbing.
-Just a side note: BUT WHEN THE HECK WILL THE WIZARDS REALIZE THAT WHEN SOMEONE STEALS BOOMSLANG SKIN AND LACEWING FLIES, THEY ARE GOING TO BE BREWING POLYJUICE POTION? ALSO SIDE NOTE: WHERE THE LIVING EFF WAS TEDDY LUPIN?! AND HAGRID?! AND NEVILLE?!
-Why did they have to have Scorpius pursuing Rose? Not everyone has to be in a heteronormative relationship, thank you very much. Especially because Albus and Scorpius are clearly in love with each other and I will fight anyone who says otherwise. It felt very much like queer-baiting and I was not there for that.
-Okay. I have a minimal background in theater in that I was a ballet dancer for 16 years. I say minimal because I was never really apart of the technical side of theater. But I’ve seen enough set changes and I’m best friends with someone who is in the theater world in the technical side of it that I feel pretty confident in my following complaints.
-There are 37 settings in Part 1 alone. That is INSANE. Especially that one scene where there are like 5 set changes and each set change only lasts like a minute. I cried for the techies each time I read that it was a new set.
-How in the world were they going to do the effects of the invisibility cloak in live theater?
-How in the world are they swimming in the lake/bursting out of water?
-How in the world are they doing the bookshelf scene? While it was cool to read, if it was a movie, it would be much more feasible.
-How in the world are they managing to have the changing stair cases?
-How exactly did they pull off transforming Harry into Voldemort? Or Albus, Scorpius, and Delphi into Ron, Harry, and Hermione respectively? Unless all of that happens off stage and I missed it?
-I loved that Albus was sorted into Slytherin. I thought it would be too easy to sort him into Gryffindor (though, I mean, I guess you could say it was also too easy to sort him into Slytherin).
-Scorpius and Albus’s friendship. Though, let’s all be honest, they are totally in love with each other and need to come to terms with that fact.
-The nostalgia in the first couple of scenes. Especially the line, “Best to do it at a run if you’re nervous.”
-Finding out that Harry is afraid of pigeons. It’s so random, but oddly perfect?
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked this up. I had purposefully avoided any and all spoilers. I just knew that it was based on a story that J.K Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany came up with. And I knew that it is supposed to be canon. And because of that knowledge, and the fact that while Rowling did not write this, she did give it her stamp of approval, I had a really hard time accepting a lot of what happened to be canon. It read like a really bad fan-fiction, to be honest. And I am interested to see the play in person as I’ve read from people who have seen it that there are scenes that made sense when it was played out (aka Harry telling Albus he wishes he wasn’t Albus’s father). Also, while I have a ton of issues with the staging, I am intrigued to see how in the hell they pull off what is proposed in the script. I really really wanted to like this, but I just don’t. There is just too much that I’m having to begrudgingly accept to make me like this. I feel like this medium was not the right one for the 8th story and that it would’ve worked better as the Rita Skeeter book that was mentioned on Pottermore forever ago during the Quidditch World Cup because then it would be more natural that it wasn’t written by J.K. Rowling and I wouldn’t feel as bad as having a hard time as accepting things as canon because we all know that Rita Skeeter loves to stretch the truth. I originally gave it three stars after I finished reading it, but I don’t know if that really stands anymore. Part of me wants to keep it because it’s Harry Potter and I am Harry Potter trash and part of me wants to downgrade it. For now, as of August 5, 2016 (when I wrote my original review on GoodReads), I will keep it at a 3-star rating, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I lower it in the future.
Also, to support the statement that this reads like fan-fiction, I’m going to leave this review with gifs from A Very Potter Musical/Sequel (retrieved from Tumblr):
Pottermore Presents: Short Stories from Hogwarts on Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies – 5 stars
Minerva McGonagall is a badass with a tragic backstory.
Remus Lupin is also a badass with a tragic backstory. And I loved reading more about how he and Tonks fell in love.
I actually enjoyed reading about Trelawney and actually wish there was a little bit more.
It was also really fun to read about Kettleburn since we’ve heard of him but never really saw him.
I just really enjoyed reading these short stories.
Pottermore Presents: Short Stories from Hogwarts on Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists – 5 stars
This was a really fun read.
Umbridge is actually my most hated character. Yes, I hate her even more than Voldemort. So it was really fun to read her background. She is just so evil. I loved seeing how she wormed her way into the top ranks of the Ministry.
The timeline about the Ministers for Magic was also really great to read. I love getting as much history from the wizarding world as possible.
I also really really enjoyed reading about Slughorn. He was one of my favorites upon his introduction in Half-Blood Prince and I really appreciated that his story shows a different side to the Slytherin House that is usually overlooked.
There really wasn’t anything too new with Quirrell or Peeves’ stories, but they were still entertaining to read.
Pottermore Presents Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide – 5 stars
This was another fun read. Though admittedly it made me want a real-life version of Hogwarts: A History even more.
I really enjoyed seeing more about the magic of the portraits of Hogwarts. I also really quite enjoyed the ballad of Nearly Headless Nick. And the fact that Neville asked to be placed in Hufflepuff. Bless him.
I’m surprised they included Time-Turners given the whole thing with Cursed Child, but hey, what can you do? I wish that there was a little bit more information about the subjects taught at Hogwarts rather than just a list of what was mandatory for the first two years and then an additional list of electives. Also, I wish that there was more background on the founders of Hogwarts. Like I said, it made me wish that Hogwarts: A History was a real thing.