Wednesday, 24 August 2016
Review on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
It is nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts, and as a Ministry of Magic worker and father, Harry Potter must balance both his work and family life. His youngest son, Albus, is just about to start his first year at Hogwarts. However, Albus turns out to be nothing like his father, and amidst bullying and teasing, he makes friends with Scorpius Malfoy, the son of his fathers childhood rival. As the two boys go through their Hogwarts journey together, they soon discover a terrible wrong in Harry's past, the untimely death of a boy named Cedric Diggory. Albus and Scorpius must go back in time to prevent this tragedy from occurring. However, as we all know, bad things happen to wizards who medal with time.
So as some of you might already know, I am a huge Harry Potter nerd. It all started when I was eight years old.. Okay I won't go into details but just know I started reading the books around sixteen years ago and have never looked back since. I was both excited and disappointed when I found out that there would be an eighth story in the form of a play. Excited because OH MY GOD THERE IS AN ACTUAL CANON STORY ABOUT THE NEXT GENERATION
Disappointed because I'm probably never going to be able to go see the play. Tickets are like leprechaun gold, disappearing in the blink of an eye, and along with the hefty price tag, travelling up to London and staying in a hotel would not put me in a good financial position to say the least. As many people have pointed out, this is after all a script that is designed to be watched not read, a fact that for some reason, some people didn't understand and felt it necessary to complain that it wasn't in novel format. As a lot of us don't have the privilege of getting to see the play for ourselves, the only way we will ever be able to learn this story is by reading the script. If at some point I ever get the opportunity to see the play I will definitely do a comparison, but for now this review is based on reading the script not the play itself.
I adored that it started right where Deathly Hallows finished, and it was fun to see some of the lines we all know and love from the epilogue, especially Harry's talk to Albus. I felt as if I'd never been away from this wonderful world, and I was so excited to see what this new generation would be like! The first thing I have to talk about is the characters, particularly Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy. As we all know, their fathers were enemies at school, so I loved that these two boys became instant friends on the Hogwarts Express, much like Harry and Ron did. Immediately you can see that Scorpius Malfoy is nothing like his father was at his age, and instead of being arrogant and self confident, he is shy, and through trying to impress Albus messes up his words. I found it adorable that he tried to share his sweets in an attempt to make friends, and the fact that Albus didn't care he was Draco's son or that there were rumours he was actually Voldemort's son made me instantly adore this new friendship.
I really wanted to like Rose Granger-Weasley, but unfortunately I just couldn't. I felt as if she wasn't in the script enough for me to create a full opinion of her, and what we do see of her is extremely judgemental towards Scorpius, a boy who has only ever tried to befriend her. I hated how she stopped being friends with Albus just because he was friends with Scorpius, and I couldn't for the life of me see why Scorpius liked her. Scorpius is an extremely sweet character who would never do anything to hurt anyone, so I felt as if she treated him extremely unfairly. I was honestly hoping she would change her ways and become friends with both boys, but unfortunately that did not happen.
Although I adored seeing the characters we all know and love grown up, I did feel as if there was a few characters who definitely should have at least got a mention. Although Neville is briefly mentioned, we never actually see him, which I thought was strange as a good part of the script takes place at Hogwarts, and being a Hogwarts professor and friend of Harry, Ron and Hermione, I thought he would have made a small appearance. I also felt as if George and Luna should have been mentioned, as I really wanted to know if they were okay. Another character who I expected to get a mention was Teddy Lupin, Harry's Godson. Although he is an adult by this point, I really wanted the script to at least tell us that he was okay and living happily somewhere, and I found it strange that Harry didn't even acknowledge his existence.
Moving on to the story itself, I really loved it! Time travel is always one of my favourite plot devices, and as Prisoner of Azkaban was my favourite Harry Potter book because of this, I loved that Cursed Child reminded me of this. I remember Dumbledore warning Harry and Hermione that time travel could often have dangerous consequences, so I loved that the script showed exactly how dangerous the consequences could get.
Although I did somehow accurately predict how Part 1 would end, there were still plenty of plot twists that I was not expecting at all! Although I realise the play wasn't written entirely by JK Rowling, I did feel as if some of the characters were a little out of character at times, but as people change as they get older most of it didn't bother me too much. However, some parts genuinely did seem like a strange fan fiction, one part which stands out for me being the trolley lady scene, which I found both hilarious and completely ridiculous. I also found it incredibly unbelievable that precious cinnamon roll Cedric Diggory would ever become a death eater just because he was humiliated. Cedric is honestly one of the sweetest characters in the Harry Potter series and I honestly could not see him even hurting a grindylow never mind becoming a death eater.
I adored that both Scorpius and Albus were in Slytherin! As we all know, Slytherin has always had a bad reputation, with the majority of Death Eaters, along with Voldemort himself being members. As a Slytherin myself, I always felt as if it was extremely unfair to stereotype all Slytherins as being bad, so I was so excited to learn that the protagonists of this story would be in Slytherin! I felt as if it really helped to break the Slytherin stereotype, as although you could argue that Albus acts like a typical Slytherin, Scorpius did not seem like a Slytherin at all, so I loved that he smashed the Slytherin sterotype into pieces.
Another redemption I was extremely happy about was Draco Malfoy! Throughout the Harry Potter series, I always felt as if there was more to Draco than meets the eye. I never saw him as a villain, but more a young boy who was forced into a situation he was uncomfortable with due to the circumstances of his parents. Having a father who was a Death Eater really didn't help him be the person he could have been, and seeing how Scorpius and Albus acted together made me a little sad that under different circumstances, Harry and Draco could have been that way also. It was heart breaking that Draco explained how he had been lonely as a child, and that he had envied the friendship between Harry, Ron and Hermione. I think something we all forget is that Draco initially tried to befriend Harry, but with a bad upbringing, he didn't really know how to go about this. The fact that Harry and Draco work together to find their sons and finally become friends made me extremely happy, as I have honestly wanted that for a long time. Another thing that I loved was the fact that Draco Malfoy was a much better father than Harry Potter. I was angry at Harry for the horrible things he said to Albus, and the fact that Draco had to come round his house and call him out on his shit said it all really! Basically I really adore Draco Malfoy in this story and the fact he finally got the redemption he deserved made me happy.
I know some of you probably don't want to hear this, but at the risk of conflicting opinions I'm going to do this anyway. I felt as if the relationship between Albus and Scorpius felt nothing like the relationship between Harry and Ron. Although it did feel that way at first, as the story progressed, you really saw how much these boys cared for each other and how they would do anything for each other. If we look back on Goblet of Fire, a story line that actually comes up a lot in this book, and takes place with Harry and Ron being the same age as Scorpius and Albus, you can really see the differences in the friendships. As we all remember, Harry and Ron had a falling out about Ron thinking Harry had put his name in the Goblet of Fire without telling him. I felt as if there was a lot of feelings of anger and betrayal in that story line, and although they were upset, it didn't seem to affect them too much overall, as Harry still moved on to focus on the task ahead. However if you compare that to the forced falling out of Albus and Scorpius, it couldn't be more different. The boys are described as being heartbroken, as we see Scorpius on several occasions moping round the castle, clearly upset. It gets to the point where Draco has to confront Harry about his decision, as his son has come to him in tears about not being able to be with Albus. Along with Scorpius being clearly jealous of Albus getting female attention, Scorpius' happy thought being Albus when the Dementors are close, and the adorable hugs they frequently share, it has come to my attention that, to me at least, their relationship seemed to be bordering on romance. As gay characters in children's and YA books are becoming more frequent, I thought this would have been the perfect opportunity to represent the LGBTQ community. Unfortunately, this turned out to all be queer baiting, and I was extremely frustrated when towards the end of the script, Scorpius tells Albus he has asked Rose out. I felt utterly betrayed, as along with trying to add hetero normativity into the script, I could not understand why Scorpius would like Rose. Throughout the script, she is nothing but unkind to him, adding to the horribly bullying that Scorpius has to endure. I could not believe that the child of Ron and Hermione could turn out to be a bully, but honestly there is no other word for what she is. It is clear that Albus and Scorpius have a true understanding of each other, and I saw no reason why their close friendship couldn't have turned romantic. I feel as if this book proved that we still have a long way to go to make LGBTQ relationships the new normal, and I can't help but feel as if Cursed Child missed out on the opportunity to take a huge step into achieving this. This is honestly my main problem with this story, and if that hadn't been a huge issue for me, I feel as if this story would have been border lining perfection.
So, should you read this script? DEFINITELY. Should you go see the play? If you have the money and can somehow get hold of a ticket, then please do and tell me all about it! I would honestly love to one day see the magic in person, and see if the relationship between Albus and Scorpius can be seen as a romance, or if it's merely the stage directions doing it. If you've seen the play then please feel free to let me know your opinions on this! Although i'm going to rate it 5 stars purely because I loved the story and it's Harry freaking Potter, I think the gay baiting and lack of some of my favourite characters would probably make the actual rating a 4.5.