This post has been a long time coming, and, due to a massively busy schedule, I had to take a little break from reviewing for the last two months or so, so huge apologies for that. I'm hoping to be able to post a little more regularly now!
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
, by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany
July 2016, by Little, Brown
Unless you've been living under a sizable rock for the last year or so, you'll be aware of the brand new addition to the Potterverse that has had ever kind of Harry Potter fan impatiently awaiting its release. In July this year, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was finally released as a play, both in the theatres and in bookshops. However, since I had booked tickets for the play in October (you can read about that hellish experience by clicking here
) I had vowed to leave the book firmly closed until after I had been to see the play - and yes, I really did have to padlock the book shut in order to do this!
Just under 4 months of waiting did pay off in the end, though, and I am so glad I managed to last without reading the script beforehand as I can honestly say it maximised the experience of the play to an even more incredible level!
"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."
Words cannot explain how amazing watching The Cursed Child was. If I could watch it again every single remaining day of my life, I would do so without hesitation.
In fact, the whole experience of going to London to see the play was a magical one, and one that I will never forget.
I had decided to properly get into the spirit of the event (because why
not?!) and donned my full set of robes, complete with Gryffindor tie, wand, and time-turner! Accompanying me was a fully-costumed Bellatrix Lestrange, and the pair of us definitely turned a few heads when we travelled on the extremely-busy Underground and walked through the streets of London on the way to the theatre! And even more people gave us some rather strange looks when we sat ordering pizza in a restaurant between the two parts of the play!
I know that many people actually felt quite let down with The Cursed Child, and I have a few friends who have completely disregarded the story as an addition to the series, which I why I believe I made the right choice in waiting until I had seen the play on stage.
There are parts of the criticism that, I must say, I do agree with, despite the unmeasurable amount of love I have for everything Harry Potter. However, I will stand by what I said before the play was released as a script - The Cursed Child was always intended to be a play. It was intended to be seen on the stage, performed by actors, with special effects, music, and going alongside the full theatre experience. It was not intended to be read as a book, as a simple collection of dialogue and stage directions.
Therefore, I cannot understand how people are criticising this as a book when they have not experienced the play as it was intended. It very much frustrates me.
Practically the minute I left The Palace Theatre following the end of Part Two (after I'd composed myself from being an emotional wreck) I unlocked my copy of The Cursed Child script and began to read it for myself, and, as much as I loved being able to relive it, it did not nearly live up to what I had just witnessed.
I couldn't help but feel a l
ittle bit disappointed that what was written on the page wasn't even able to nearly describe what I had seen on the stage, so I can understand how people had felt let down by what they had read.
In this respect, I feel so privileged that I was able to get tickets as early as I did and that I was able to attend the play fairly early on in its life.
Absolutely nothing will ever me able to capture the absolute magic that The Cursed Child was. It was beautiful to watch and I really felt honoured to be there. I had expected magic, obviously, with it being Harry Potter, but I never expected it in the full extent that it was - I was just blown away. Wands seemed completely magic, producing sparks, fire and smoke at command, fingers grew to the length of broomsticks (yes, really!), and I honestly can't comprehend how they managed to use Polyjuice Potion onstage and transform into other actors. It was incredible!
The actors who managed to pull off this spectacular performance were completely stunning. They obviously had to have a few different characteristics in comparison to the character we have loved for so long in the Harry Potter films, but this is understandable since they were necessary for the performance. I thought Harry and Ron, in particular, were very realistic and were fairly close to how I imagined them to be in the future.
Hermione, on the other hand, wasn't quite as how imagined her in terms of characteristics. This was quite disappointing for me since Hermione is a character I have aspired to be like since the age of six, and I just didn't feel like I connected with her as much. This could be just due to the larger age gap between us now, but I just didn't feel as if she was likable, and she definitely seemed out of character in my opinion.
This brings me to the issue of the story itself. I'm not going to pretend that I loved every aspect of it, even though I really, really loved the play itself. I thought that the story itself gave off the feeling of fanfiction. And don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with fanfiction; I am a proud reader and writer of fanfiction, so I don't have issues with it. I could tell that this story didn't completely come straight from the mind of J.K. Rowling. It just didn't feel like her story, and there were aspects of the play that I didn't think were all that believable.
Like I've said before, I feel very close to Hermione as a character, and I really can't see that she would've become the Minister of Magic. It doesn't feel like a Hermione-ish job and I can't see that she would've enjoyed it. Obviously people change from when they're a teenager, but it just didn't seem right to me.
That being said, I loved the new characters. Scorpius Malfoy is my new literary love. He was an amazing character and I loved every single part of him. Like I've said before, though, he was captured in the script in an entirely different way to how the amazingly talented Anthony Boyle portrayed him on the stage (which was as an awkwardly hilarious, jittery, caring and loyal wizard, as opposed to the shy and nervous way I had interpreted him from the script).
I also really loved Albus and Rose (of course!) but it was Scorpius who stole the show for me, I think. He was just amazing.
I was a little disappointed at the lack of other characters, like Hugo, Lily Jr. and James Jr., as I would've liked to see a lot more of them, but I suppose this would've been difficult given it being a stage show with limited time to tell the story it wanted to tell.
I really, really, don't want to spoil anything in this post, but I also feel the need to mention the absence of a certain Professor of Herbology, who I was desperate to see grown up!
And also, I would've absolutely loved
to see Mr and Mrs Weasley in this addition to the story; it just didn't feel like Harry Potter without them!
But, I suppose, this is something that made The Cursed Child unique, in that it wasn't a continuation of Potter, simply there to tell new stories about all of the old characters; it was definitely its own story, about new characters, or old characters with new personalities. Whether this is a good thing or not, I can't quite tell, but it certainly made the play unique.
Back to my point about the slightly 'unbelievable' storyline, I can't quite describe my feelings towards the basis for the storyline. Without trying to spoil the play too much for anyone who has not yet read or seen The Cursed Child (seriously, guys! Get yourselves to London ASAP!), the play itself was a little confusing, as is anything that messes with time travel and changes history! This is why I thought the storyline was a little far-fetched, since it didn't seem all that original or realistic. I was in a rather torn situation as to whether or not I liked the addition of the character Delphine, either. I mean, she definitely added a lot to the story, but whether I liked what she added or not is another question.
It was just a little bit odd, in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I did absolutely love it, it was just a little odd.
I was massively impressed by the length of the play as a whole! I was so surprised to find that the entirety of the show would last over five hours! Every single part was as magical and spellbinding as the last and I got goose-bumps just watching!
The ending of the play was honestly one of the most emotional things I have ever witnessed, and even though I managed to control the sobbing so that the never-ending flow of tears was as silent as possible (unlike in many other situations!) the emotions that overcame me were like no other. A lot of it was probably from the build-up and knowledge that this really was the end of Harry's journey, then the rest was made-up of the sadness of the story that I was witnessing, because that last part, where they had to go back to Godric's Hollow and relive a particular event, was sad. Really sad. Heart-breakingly sad.
Unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on your opinion of my sobbing!), I didn't get the same level emotion from reading the play again after watching it, but it was still rather devastating.
I really don't think there's a lot else I can say about The Cursed Child. It marked the end of an era for me, as it really gave me the impression that our journey with Harry was over, and over for good this time.
I am in love with the play, both for what it represented for me, and for the experience it gave me.
I cannot fault the way in which it was pulled off; it was absolutely spectacular, and like I said, I feel honoured to have been able to see it. The script and storyline itself I was less of a fan of. That doesn't mean at all that I didn't like it, it just felt to me like it wasn't completely genuine and I don't believe it's the way in which J.K. Rowling intended the story to go. I personally feel that my own made-up continuation for the Potter books could be better for the story as a whole than this was (although I'm probably quite biased) so in this respect, I wasn't overly ecstatic. I prefer to think of The Cursed Child as amazing fan-fiction that just so happened to be turned into a stage-show, as opposed to it being canon, since it's easier for me to accept that way.
Harry Potter is the series of books that is the closest to my heart. In fact, it's probably one of the closest things to my heart in general. For that reason, I'm fairly protective over it and was worried when I'd heard the massively critical response to The Cursed Child. However, I can assure you that seeing this play was honestly one of the best experiences of my life. It was magical and I think that's the best word I can use to describe it. I will continue to judge The Cursed Child as a play, not as a script, because, like I've said, that's how I believe it was intended to be judged. So, if you read the script and were not impressed, I urge that you don't take it to heart, and instead, just go and see the play! You will not regret it, I promise!
I am desperate to go back to London and watch it numerous times again, and I'm sure that I will end up going again in the relatively near future! It was far too good to only see once!
If you've read or seen The Cursed Child, I'd love to know what you thought so please let me know!
I hope to be back with another post very soon, but until then, au revoir!