Monday, 8 August 2016

REVIEW - Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter, #8)It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children. While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.


Note - Please be aware that this is a view in all its spoiler-y glory. I'm fully aware of the #KeepTheSecrets campaign, and wholeheartedly support it; but I also need to discuss this, and share my opinions. So, if you haven't read and/or seen Cursed Child, please disapparate now. 

When I first arrived home after the midnight release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I settled in my Potter-attire, and for a few moments, simply stared at the book. After waiting for so long, after craving answers to the many questions, it was finally mine. As you're aware, I had my doubts about Cursed Child, and I had intense fears that it would ruin my love for the Harry Potter series. Well, I was wrong, as it certainly didn't disappoint. 

I read Cursed Child in one sitting, refusing to sleep until I had all the answers I desired; and by the time I had finished, I was a crying mess. The best way to do this is to break the review down into sections, because there is so much that needs to be said. So sit tight, grab some butterbeer and a chocolate frog. Maybe some tissues too...

I have a lot of feelings ....

The Overall Plot
Cursed Child's plot rouses mixed emotions and opinions. Some love it, some hate it. I'm on the fence. Whilst it is fast paced, incredibly intense and intriguing, it relies entirely on the plot of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Although readers are fully aware that this isn't (as it has been so poorly marketed) 'the 8th story,' for a new chapter, with new characters, I would have expected an entirely original plot. Leaning on Goblet of Fire to support what happens feels, in many respects, like an easy way out. There is potential for a whole new story which doesn't depend on any of the 7 books, and yet the path that was taken is questionable. In spite of my comments and disappointment at the actual plot, said plot was still well-executed, and had me hooked from start to finish. 

The Big Twist
So. Voldemort has a daughter. In the form of Delphini. She's also the daughter of Bellatrix Lestrange. This was the first thing I was spoiled on, and although I wasn't bothered by the fact that I'd been spoiled, it's been two months and I'm still baffled by how this can be. Bringing a daughter of Voldemort into the story is, how shall we say... a 'questionable' move on Rowling and Thorne's respective parts. Not just because it exudes intense fanfiction vibes, but also because of what we already know about Voldemort. Tom Riddle was conceived under a love potion, and therefore is incapable of feeling love, lust or any sort of attraction. Given this is a huge part of his character, then how does he 'produce' a child? What is incredibly frustrating is the concept that maybe someone else could have been the villain. ANYONE else could have been the villain, but no. Apparently the best bet, no matter the lack of sense it makes, is Voldemort's daughter. 

Ron and Hermione
Given Rowling's announcement in 2014 that she believed that having Ron and Hermione together was 'wish fulfilment,' I certainly had my concerns that she and Thorne would show the marriage somewhat falling apart. But no! The relationship between these two characters is stronger than ever; to the point where Ron suggests that they renew their vows. Such pair has always had its ups and downs, but the couple seems to have gotten over the issues that made them in some ways incompatible. Watching the intensity of their love unfold on the page was truly beautiful, and I can only imagine that the conduction of this on the stage is even better. Quite simply said - I'm so proud of Ron and Hermione, and my love for the two of them has only soared with this chapter of Harry's story. 
This GIF is a summary of the Romione dialogue in Cursed Child.
Ron appears to be over his jealousy issues, which so often dominated his flaws and affected his relationships to Harry and Hermione. Instead, he's a romantic, who doesn't hide his love for his family and friends (as professed to Hermione, Harry, and Ginny in Act One.) He has found a place, working in Weasley's Wizard Wheezes and being the primary parent in raising his and Hermione's children, and he's proud of it. As an adult, Ron has chosen to step into his own light away from Harry's shadow, and at last he's happy. 

Hermione, of course, went and did exactly what she told everyone she wouldn't do with her career. After telling Scrimegeour that she refused to work for the government ('No, I want to do something good in the world!') naturally she went on to become Minister for Magic. She's still the Hermione we have known and adored for countless years now, but with the highest position in British Wizarding Society. Always quick-witted, sharp-skilled and powerful, 40-year-old Hermione still remains my favourite character of all fiction. 

The Potters
Cursed Child has made me have faith in Harry and Ginny's relationship. From conversations I've had with others, to many fans, it feels as if Harry and Ginny were coupled together for the sake of convenience, and throughout Half-Blood Prince, there's definite airs of this. The main problem I've always had with the relationship is that readers see very little of its development in HBP, and by the epilogue they're married, which is a harsh contrast to the slow-burning development of Ron and Hermione. However, the stage directions, coupled with the dialogue between the couple has perhaps ended my disbelief in this pairing. There's a love present which before was what could be considered lust on Harry's part, and life-long infatuation on Ginny's side, and I could picture it. 

Honestly, I was a little disappointed in Harry at times. I've always envisioned him being a rather good parent, and for about 3/4 of Cursed Child, he is. But there are things that he said that as a child you can't forgive. The actions and words of your parents stick with you for a lifetime, and I'd like to think that Harry, of all people, would have been desperate to be the best parent he could possibly be. This shame over our protagonist didn't last, and that hasn't tainted my respect and admiration for him as a character.

Draco Malfoy [Oh dear...]
Since finishing Cursed Child, I have found myself with many feelings, sympathetic and the like, for Draco Malfoy, which I NEVER predicted myself experiencing. Truth be told, in the past week there have been far too many moments in which I've had to stop what I'm doing and think 'Poor, POOR Draco...' For a character I've always loathed, the love I now feel for our once antagonist is incalculable. He has gone from being the spoilt Malfoy heir, to the teenager at breaking point in Deathly Hallows, to a distraught widower who is close to breaking the laws of time just so he can see his wife again. Reading about what has happened to Draco in the 19 years since 'Flaw in the Plan,' and the realities of his childhood genuinely hurt on several occasions. This section doesn't even begin to cover my emotions on this wonderful character, because I struggle to word these thoughts myself, but Cursed Child has perhaps for many members of the Harry Potter fandom made us see Draco Malfoy in a more humanistic light. From Draco, that's all I'll ever need.




Albus, Rose, and Scorpius
Entering Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, I had high hopes that Albus, Rose and Scorpius would form a new trio. Wouldn't it be perfect - a Potter, a Weasley (who's also a Granger), and a Malfoy? Well, that didn't happen, and to me at least, that was a major disappointment. That being said, all three characters were delightful, both together and individually. Albus is essentially how his father was throughout Order of the Phoenix - an angry, lost teenager who didn't ask for the burden he has been given. His struggle was one that was to be expected, but went much deeper than I had first imagined, and was hard to read at times. He's a likeable character, and I appreciate everything he represents and does in Cursed Child, but by no means is he Scorpius Malfoy

Perhaps fanfiction twisted how I thought Scorpius would be; but I always believed he would be a significant improvement on his father, and that he was. Many have expressed their fondness for this character, but I was surprised to find how much Scorpius reminds me of myself in high school. He's anxious, bookish, desperate to make good friends, and is the voice of reason when others are unpredictable (Albus.) The parallels between he and Hermione are striking - so much so that the two even speak in unison at one point in Act Three. He's a new favourite character within the Harry Potter series, and I'm so pleased that he featured with such prominence and Thorne's writing of the young Malfoy conveyed a struggle of grief, isolation and great heart so seamlessly. 

Rose has been my favourite next-generation character for as long as I can remember, which is why it was saddening to see how the script lacked her character's presence. I longed for a lot more from her character [for her to maybe be the Hermione in the new trio], but instead she featured only a handful of times, only one of which involved her parents. As a result of this, readers lack witnessing how Ron and Hermione are parents in the same way we bare witness to Harry and Ginny. On the other hand, in the scenes in which Rose made an appearance, she was everything I'd ever hoped she would be - a beautiful combination of Ron and Hermione; both exceedingly smart and an avid Quidditch player. She's sceptical like her mother, but with a great heart. I have no doubt that Scorpius' love for her will be reciprocated in the future...

The Alternative Universes
I'll keep this brief, but the use of alternative universes was troubling. I have mapped out a plot of the script on a wall in my bedroom and there are plot holes and deprived explanations that just ruffle the feathers of the story in a way that confuses readers. On the stage, the alternative universes and uses of time travel are probably better explained and understood. Even though I express anguish at the issue I have with the above, the alternative universes were both effective and horrifying. Knowing that Albus and Scorpius could have destroyed the worlds they have come from, and that we so love is scary to watch unfold, but I love the messages and thoughts that can come with exploring these other universes that could have been realities with a mere different turn. This was the most emotive in the case of Ron and Hermione's relationship to one another in other dimensions - in each we saw, they were apart, and yet still destined to be together. Thus it is so subtly expressed that Ron and Hermione are meant to be.

Breaking the Cannon and Issues I have
McGonagall. I'm very, very frustrated with Rowling breaking her own post-Potter cannon for the sake of bringing back a familiar face. For many years, fans have had confirmation that by the time James Potter started at Hogwarts in 2015, McGonagall had retired. Despite this, she is still headmistress of Hogwarts in 2020 in Cursed Child. I understand the power of having a character we know and love play a significant role in this new story, but I just can't understand why it is necessary to break canon and confuse a readership in the process. 

Another issue I had surrounding the breakage of canon was the disappearance of Hugo Granger-Weasley. WHY wasn't Hugo a part of this play. We're all fully aware that Lily is the same age as Hugo, and yet he wasn't present on the platform, nor was he at the sorting. Perhaps it's harder for me, because I care a great deal more about the Weasley's than the Potter's, but I just wish that they hadn't ignored a character that played just as much signifance as Lily Luna. 

The use of dreams and flashbacks was harrowing, but also again bent canon in a way that was troubling. An example of this is in how Sirius doesn't appear before Hagrid in Godric's Hollow, and yet he does in the main series. Some were evidently just dreams, but others wavered on the border between a dream and reality, unable to decide which side they would settle on. We know Petunia never took Harry to visit his parents' graves, but we do know there's the possibility that she tormented him for wetting the bed. It's cases like this where why these false memories exist in the plot at all is questionable.  



This review, or rambling or rant, or whatever you want to call it will never be perfect, because like with any installment in the Harry Potter world, there is so much to say, and so little time. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not flawless, but nothing ever is, and I'm so relieved that it isn't the let down I feared. If I were to attempt to summarise this script into a few words, it would be 'profoundly moving.' It has been a week since Cursed Child's release. I have read the script twice and am contemplating reading it for a third, and needless to say, I am in love. This story will never be over, no matter what Rowling or anyone says, because 'the stories we love live on in us,' and this is one that will stick with me for the rest of my life. 



2 comments:

  1. Oooh I love how detailed and in depth this review is - I just skimmed it as I've not read the script yet so will come back and read all your thoughts when I've finally got my hands on the Cursed Child..I agree with your point on Draco though..I think I actually started feeling sympathetic for him in the latter half of the Harry Potter series to be honest!

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    1. Thank you! I had so much to say that this was never destined to be a conventional review. Draco never sparked any sympathy in the later books of the series [particularly HBP] when first reading, and then rereading them, but now having read Cursed Child, words can't encapsulate the amount of sorrow I have for him.
      I really hope you enjoy Cursed Child when you read it - it's certainly a roller-coaster of emotions!

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