Spoiler-Free Thoughts on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

 

So unless you’ve been avoiding me intentionally, you probably know that I saw Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre in London last weekend and haven’t really shut up about it since.

There’s so much to say, and I feel like I’ve been holding it all up waiting to spill it all out once I’d analysed everything properly in my head, but seeing as that would take even the most seasoned analyst (aka me) weeks and weeks, I decided to do it now. I won’t shut up about it still, but it’s a start. You can live in hope.

I’ve tried to keep this spoiler free, so if you’ve not seen it or read the script you are safe to read on. Okay there’s a tiny spoiler but if you’ve seen the press release photos you’ll know it anyway. I’ve marked it so if you do want to skip it you can.

Now I know most people have a lot of criticism of the script. Looking back on the show, I can see why. The plot isn’t great and if I tried to sum it up on paper it would sound ridiculous – does sound ridiculous, in fact. What you must remember when reading a script is this: the script =/= the play. It’s just the script. It’s not the whole play. The writing is one dimension to a multi-layered performance piece. There’s far more to consider in theatre than the words on the page. In a novel, you have full characterisation, subplot and description in the words. In a play a lot of this comes down to the actors, the music, the set. The feel of the play is often found more in these other aspects than the writing – so it’s bound to come off feeling unpolished and shallow. The script has the words the characters say, but can’t completely portray the way they say them – the actors do that. The music adds tension or relief. The set adds description and context. I understand not liking the script, I do, but it’s important to remember that the script isn’t the full picture. It’s also important to remember that there isn’t the time to fit the whole entire story of the universe in one play – it’s 5 hours long as it is! It took 7 books to fit 18 years of Harry’s life in – a play can’t fit the next 20 odd years in their entirety in.

Right, well that’s that out of the way, let’s talk about the show. I think going along the lines of the above rant, we’ll break it up.

Harry Albus Ginny

Actors and Characterisation

Firstly, BLACK HERMIONE IS EVERYTHING. I was a little disappointed that Noma Dumezweni was off on the day I saw it but the cover, Nicola Alexis, was incredible. I can’t sing her praises enough. This Hermione can come off a little cold, but she always did. She is overly logical and tends to use her head over her heart, just as she did as a child – this has always given the wrong impression. She is warm when it matters and fiercely loyal (also just plain fierce) but unafraid to make difficult decisions. Cursed Child Hermione is no different, just more grown up.

I was a little disappointed by Ron’s part in the play. It feels similar to his part in the films – he is just the funny best friend. While he’s charming and again the actor was fantastic, his part was relatively small. I’d have liked to have seen just him and Harry have a moment or two; but as I said above, time constraints are understandable.

Harry…. Harry’s always been a difficult sod, hasn’t he? There were moments where I thought “that’s not my Harry” or “my Harry wouldn’t think like that”, but on thinking about it – Harry in the play is 20 years older than when we last left him (well, excluding the end scene but we didn’t really get much from that did we). A lot has changed and a lot still haunts him. He has three children, a stressful job, PTSD from the whole “nearly died when my parents were brutally murdered then again every year for 7 years, after 11 years of living with abusive muggle pricks”* thing – he’s not exactly going to be the cheeky chappy sassy teenager who told Snape not to call him sir still. He’s moody, neurotic, angry, self-centred… which he kind of was anyway. A lot. He’s scared, he’s protective of his children and like so many parents he hasn’t got a clue what his kid’s problem is. So while I had moments where I was disappointed in his character, I also found it realistic that as an adult he’s obviously changed somewhat. People change and it isn’t always for the better.

*My words not his, but still true.

Ginny played a far bigger role than in the films, which I was so glad of, but again I’d have liked to have seen more of her. She was still a sort of supporting role for Harry a lot of the time, with a few badass outbursts – she is a badass so why don’t we see that?

Draco was charmingly funny with the usual “I’m more emo than you” competitions with Harry thrown in for good measure.

McGonagall. BAMF as per.

The kids. Oh, the kids. My beloved next generation of freedom fighters. So many mixed feelings.

You can tell Albus is Harry’s, that’s pretty much all I need to say. He does the “YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ME IT’S NOT A PHASE” thing just as well as his father.

James is a lovable prick, like his granddad.

Scorpius, man. SCOR-PI-US. I’ve loved him since we were introduced, but now we’ve got some real characterisation? Love, love, love him. Anthony Boyle totally smashed it, he had us in stitches, tears and everything in between. Brilliant.

Rose…was not what I was expecting. I think I’d pinned an awful lot of hope on Rose, and unfortunately for me her characterisation was the least realistic – I found myself feeling that this wasn’t the child my Ron & Hermione would have raised. Cherrelle Skeete is a wonderful actress and she did a beautiful job, but I wasn’t keen on the character and that did upset me.

Draco Scorpius

I won’t discuss any of the other characters so as not to spoil it, so…

Visuals

Wow. Just wow. The visuals were absolutely breathtaking. It was clear that a lot of thought went in to making transitions, prop changes etc as smooth as possible, while also having that typical magic touch.

The magic itself was shown beautifully and we kept saying that we couldn’t see wires, couldn’t tell how most of it was done – of course it’s not all completely seamless, but for theatre they did a damn good job.

The costuming was brilliant and some of the special effect costumes were actually better than their film CGI counterparts. Absolutely everything was thought out and incredible detail went into creating the visual effects in the play. My only complaint is MINOR SPOILER BUT NOT IF YOU’VE SEEN THE PRESS PHOTOS that they changed the Ravenclaw colours yet again! We’re blue and bronze, not blue and silver and not blue and light blue. They also changed Hufflepuff’s colours to yellow and brown. They look good, sure, but I quite like being blue and bronze. SPOILER OVER

Music

The music was lovely, and certainly felt like a run on from the film scores, but didn’t pack quite the same punch. Of course, in a play you don’t really expect grand overtures (except from a musical), so I believe it fit its purpose, but it wasn’t as memorable to me as I’d have liked.

Plot

I’ve sort of mentioned this already, but the plot didn’t bowl me over. It was fine, but not massively strong or impactful. A lot of people go on about the discrepancies in the plot and JKR’s existing logic about certain things, but if I’m honest I haven’t memorised every detail of canon and I think it made sense even if it wasn’t the strongest storyline in the history of the world. I didn’t go into this taking it as the eighth story, more an added bonus. I’m perfectly happy with the pure main canon of 7 books and 7 films; anything after these are either added bonuses I happen to like or things I don’t like but don’t feel too upset about because they’re not actually part of the main story in my eyes. I never particularly wanted more books or more canonical stuff, so to me I could take it or leave it (or, I could before).

So to sum up, the plot wasn’t the best and I can see how it might not translate on the page. Coupled with incredible actors and a wonderful, atmospheric set it almost doesn’t matter. It got me excited, proud of my precious characters and I may have shed a tear or two. Or several. We were very lucky to get most of the main cast working on the day we went, and all who performed did a fantastic job. I’m the first to admit that there are a lot of issues, both with the play and with using theatre to tell this story, but there’s just something about the atmosphere and the actors that made The Cursed Child so enjoyable to me. Maybe it’s just the effect of the theatre.

Have you seen it? Read it? Thoughts?

See you soon,

signature

Last Post: Review Wednesday | Book Review – Birds Art Life Death

Follow Me:

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Bloglovin’
Pinterest


Fandom Friday | Welcome Home: Fandom That Sticks

Lately I’ve revisited a few of my favourite TV shows, and it got me thinking about why we re-read/listen/watch certain things. There are a staggering number of fantastic novels, TV series, films, albums etc. in the world, many quite similar, and yet we go back to the same worlds. They’re comfortable, nostalgic even. We know the stories, the characters, the lines; we have control. We know what they’re capable of and while they’re more than likely to leaving us as sobbing messes on the floor (thanks, Rowling) we know it’s coming – and we love them anyway. Of course, even without sentimentality the things that stay with us do so because, well, we like them.

Here are some examples of the things I always go back to, and some of my reasons:

Harry Potter

IMG_4665.JPG

I think this one goes without saying, really. Harry has been an integral part of my life since I was 6 years old.  So much of who I am comes from Harry Potter; I wouldn’t be a writer, therefore wouldn’t have done the degree I did, met the people I did etc, etc. Not to mention that so much of my understanding of the world came from the Wizarding World – growing up with such strong messages about almost everything has led to some pretty strong opinions. If you don’t like my hippy-dippy leftist views, blame Potter. As JK Rowling herself said, ‘Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home’- and it has become a home for me. No matter how bad things feel, HP has always been there; and I know he always will.

RENT

rent

RENT is a wonderful musical. I haven’t been lucky enough to see it on stage, but I watch the film version over and over again. I first watched it when I was 12, and 9 years on I still find new things to love every time I watch it. The messages are powerful, the characters are incredibly written and perfectly flawed, and the music is everything.

Hustle

Hustle.jpg

Hustle is a TV series by the BBC. The show finished a few years ago, after 8 seasons.  It’s a show that I watched when it very first came out – my dad and I watched every season together, and now watching reruns is a regular occurrence. I suppose I like it because of the nostalgia, and also simply because it’s a great TV show. I probably know every episode inside out, and yet it still stuns me. The programme is so clever and original – I still don’t think I’ve seen anything like it, not really.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More, With Feeling

once-more-with-feeling

Do I even need to explain this?! This Buffy episode has all the best bits of the show in general, and it’s a musical!

The Blessed Unrest

the-blessed-unrest

Now, I have a lot of songs that I listen to again and again, sure, but this is perhaps the only album I go back to in its entirety. I love this album for the messages; I can relate to every single song, depending on my mood and circumstances. As Sara herself says, (although Gravity isn’t actually on this album) ‘something always brings me back to you. It never takes too long’.

What are the things you always go back to? What are your reasons?

See you soon,

signature

Last Post: Review Wednesday | September Reads Round Up!

Follow Me:

Facebook
Twitter
Instagram
Goodreads
Bloglovin’
Pinterest

 

sara bareilles aka queen.gif

I will come back 1000 times. [x]


Fandom Friday – My 5th Nerdaversary

I grew up in a world where being passionate about something, almost anything in fact, was enough to label you a ‘nerd’ – and a nerd wasn’t something you wanted to be; John Green was a name only known on YouTube, and geek culture wasn’t a fashion trend, it was something to laugh at. Reality wasn’t like the Disney movies, where you had to be some kind of ugly science genius to be a nerd (and even that was bad enough) – you just had to care about something.I don’t know if that’s just part of being a teenage girl, if it was just another shitty side effect of 2009 or what, but it sucked. Being a fairly smart kid with a thing for books, this wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted – pretending not to like anything is exhausting. Being ‘cool’ was more important than anything, even to the adults in my life.

Read More


Harry Potter and Social Issues -Could JK Rowling Have Gone Further?

It is undeniable that the Harry Potter series deals with social issues in many ways – they are written into the text in such a way that has shaped the way generations have and continue to view the world. Millions of young people have grown up with Harry, often looking to the Wizarding World for guidance. It is unsurprising, then, that as we and our society develop, that we both appreciate the ways the series explores social injustice and acknowledge the aspects that are unsatisfying. While the series tackles many issues in an immensely overt way, there are things that could be improved.

Hermione, for instance. In the current stage show, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Hermione is played by Noma Dumezweni. Many were unhappy with the idea of a black actress playing her. Others however, myself included, feel that Hermione as a black woman adds to Hermione’s story. She faces racism in the wizarding world for her ‘blood status’ – she’s a muggleborn, which is frowned on by some “purebloods” – wizards born into wizarding families. She faces immense prejudice at the hands of Draco Malfoy and other purebloods, and in the film series has a racial slur, “mudblood”, carved into her arm by Bellatrix Lestrange (Deathly Hallows, Part 1).

Noma.jpg

Noma Dumezweni. Found here

In the novels, JK Rowling doesn’t specify the colour of Hermione’s skin. While I believe that writers should limit character descriptions and leave the reader to garner their own impressions of the characters, stating that Hermione had dark skin could have strengthened the impact her struggle with racism stronger.

Another aspect I feel could have been explored was Dumbledore’s sexuality. Rowling revealed on a book tour for the last novel in the series that Dumbledore was gay. Many LGBT+ people look to the series for it’s messages of acceptance and love, and relate to struggles such as Hermione’s. A gay character further opens up the world to LGBT+ people, however Rowling chose not to write in Dumbledore’s sexuality – at least not overtly. Of course it would be difficult to publish a children’s book, particularly in the 90s and early 00s, with an openly gay character – but considering the immense success of the Potter series, I seriously doubt sales would have been that affected if she had written it into one of the later novels.

In a book series that has taught me and so many others about acceptance, love and equality it is disheartening that some things like these examples that could have easily been included were left out. At the same time, the series isn’t solely a social commentary, and manages to balance discussion of several important issues with magic, dragons, mermaids, Dark Lords and even the odd Quidditch match. We can make several real life comparisons and learn a lot from the series, even if it isn’t perfect.

See you soon,

Ro x

Featured Image by Vondell Swain