^ There I am with my then-pregnant belly, having just picked up my copy on the day of it’s release one year ago! It came with a little lightning bolt book-bag. How cute. I know this is the Rehearsal script, and not the final one, so I will hold on to that in the hopes a couple of things change.
I had to search online for access to a downloadable pdf because at the moment of starting this, I still don’t have my copy here with me. It’s ok though! I found something to get me going.
It goes without saying, John Tiffany and Jack Thorne are both highly revered and renowned at what they do as director and writer, respectively. Having highly accomplished people at the helm does help ease the slight cringe of there being an eighth Harry Potter story to begin with. You can definitely see when you read it where JKR has injected her ideas. I mean, it’s super exciting and all, as a Potterhead, to have new material come out BUT in order to really take it in and create a good review, you can’t just read it and love it automatically on the blind faith of your preexisting love for the series. *deep breath*
^ I made that mistake the first time. I started and finished that damn book in the same day (I was thinking, that’s quite the feat with a baby and a toddler, but I was still pregnant with #2 then… I imagine it’ll be harder this time). I was all pumped up on excitement of there even being anything to read, and two seconds after I finished it I was all, “THIS IS AMAZING!” but then once I calmed down, and the more I’ve thought about it since, the more awkward opinionated commentary I have. Also possibly some burning questions. BURNING.
I’ll start with PART 1 ACT 1, because it’s all I had time for. There is no format to this, I’m just sort of writing what comes to mind as I go!
SCENES 1—4, the opening, the train, and our first glimpse into the continuation, which, begins exactly where the Epilogue left off at the end of Deathly Hallows.
The first thing I need to comment on is how Ginny repeats the same line her mother does in the very first book— or was it the movie? Probably both: “All you have to do is walk straight at the wall between platforms nine and ten” AND THEN, Harry pipes up, “best do it at a run if you’re nervous”. Whaaaat? Why did they do that? Was it not obvious enough who these people are and what’s happening? Why couldn’t there have been some new dialogue? That is literally the same thing Molly Weasley says to Harry when they first meet at King’s Cross Station in Philosopher’s Stone. Call me crazy, but I’m fairly certain he’d already be aware of this bit of knowledge about the train. I guess it’s a cute throwback, or whatever, but it felt like a stretch to me. In my opinion they missed an opportunity at a small bit of character building through that small bit of dialogue. I haven’t read the revised final script or seen the play, which I’m sure is master theatre, but I sincerely hope they changed that bit. Oh well, at least the sister was impressed, because it felt like it was probably her first time there. You think they’ll give her the same advice when it’s her turn to go to Hogwarts? Nah. Come on.
About Albus Severus Potter: I found it again characteristically redundant how he is worried about being placed in Slytherin, just like Harry was. As the title character, I expected him to show his differences right off the bat. I remember from my first time reading that Albus actually proves himself as the story progresses to be fit for Slytherin (but also glimpses of a Gryffindor), and I couldn’t understand why he’d even care in the first place what house he ended up in. In fact, if he was so sick of being “the great Harry Potter’s son” and feeling the expectations that comes with it, you’d think he would welcome being in Slytherin. I feel like maybe he did ask to be in Slytherin. I don’t think he views himself as “brave” anyhow. I’m pretty sure he eventually accepts it and even embraces himself at times as the story unfolds, but sheesh what a way to again flub a chance at developing something different for this character. In my opinion, he should have been a careless baddie from the start! Hahaha.
The first two scenes left me wanting more dialogue, more banter. It was not fulfilling enough. We’re only just beginning though!
The first meeting between Albus, Rose, and Scorpius again feels like we’ve been here before. They could have met in a more exciting way. Once again, in throwback style, the kids just walk into a compartment, make intros, and become friends. There’s no new experience or lead-up. And, *ahem*, why would Ginny not let her children eat sweets? Was she not a kid once?! What is up with that?! I thought Ginny was COOL?! Haha. Scorpius provides comic relief, and that I can appreciate. I’m not sure where he gets his sense of humour (probably his mom), but he has a good one. For me, Scorpius is about the most interesting character in the whole script. His mother also intrigues me. People think his parents were Death Eaters (his dad was, obviously), but not his mother— Death Eaters don’t sing about making friends by way of candy. Luring people with candy, maybe. But not making friends. Also, we are introduced to the idea of Voldemort having a child. It is merely a rumour at this point of the story, and one which I find supremely awkward. Everybody thinks it’s Scorpius, and they give him hell for it even if it’s not true. There is more to be learned on that the further we read.
The dialogue between Scorpius and Albus quickly becomes the most enjoyable aspect of the story. Scorpius makes a comment about having father-son issues, and preferring to be a Malfoy over the “son of the Dark Lord”, as the rumours would suggest. This is the moment where Albus connects with Malfoy junior on a deeper level. Aha! And there we have it: a friendship. It feels genuine.
When we get to Hogwarts and the series of time jumps, I can imagine how cool this would have been (and also how many effects were probably used) on the stage.
“There’s a silence.
A perfect, profound silence.
One that sits low, twists a bit and has damage within it.”
^ I like this. It’s the first real genuine connection to the past that we all expected and didn’t expect at the same time. Its the first question we probably asked ourselves after finishing the Deathly Hallows Epilogue: what if Albus did end up in Slytherin? I think it’s that question that lit the flame for this whole continuation.
It seems like Albus has grown accustomed to being harshly judged and bullied, and that is sad. Scorpius and Albus prove to be good friends to one another amidst the shitty things that happen to each of them. We can only speculate how bad it is, because it’s mostly just talked about. It leaves a lot to the imagination.
Getting into SCENES 5—6: Reading this for the second time, I realize that these folks are super duper In Charge . Harry defeated Voldemort, and now Hermione is the Minister for Magic (duh, I suppose) and she’s basically running shit now. Of course they would get the Time Turner! I’d like JKR to write some lost chapters: the operation and capture of Theodore Knott and subsequent confiscation of the last remaining Time Turner. I’d love to read that. Basically everything that takes place before this scene, as well as this scene. In any case, Harry still respects Hermione to the highest degree. and takes their positions seriously (except for the paperwork).
As he leaves the Ministry, I am reminded of the same tired Harry from the end of Deathly Hallows. I found it a bit extreme at first that Amos Diggory was so hell bent on using the Time Turner to get Cedric back. To go back to that night would probably be the worst idea ever. THE worst. Idea. Ever. We of course will find out where that idea came from.
SCENE 7 hits ya RIGHT in the FEELS. The blanket. *sob* I found this a very heart wrenching scene. It is touching that Petunia Dursley would keep the blanket all these years. Was she more in tune with what was happening than we realize? She must have shown tenderness to Harry as a baby, but at odd hours and never in the presence of her husband. We know he had a terrible upbringing until going to Hogwarts, but it is hard to imagine him not receiving affection as a baby and then a toddler. Perhaps it is his magical blood and inherent specialness that keeps him so even-keel when we meet his as an eleven year old (or maybe it’s the ruthless piece of Dark Soul igniting the survivor in him.
Anyhow, I know Albus doesn’t get it now, but I think Harry understands what sort of magic is in this blanket— the last object he has from his mother Lily, who died protecting him (thus imbuing his blood with that same protection). I said “thus”, yes I did.
The fight between Harry and Albus is sad and intense. I feel, as I read it, that this is the very same old Harry, just struggling with being a parent. It feels like the same character. Albus really does seem as cursed as his father was, but for much different reasons.
Moving on to SCENES 9 through 12.
‘The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.’
GINNY looks at him, surprised.
A strange thing to say to a child.
Not when you believe that child will have to die to save the world.
HARRY gasps again – and does all he can not to touch his forehead.”
That is definitely some deep shit. Harry was put through a lot at a young age. In Scene 10 I can see exactly how Albus is like his father: reckless. I’m sure it’s for all the wrong reasons that he makes his next series of decisions. He sadly believes his father doesn’t care, but in reality Albus does not know the gravity of the situation he is about to put himself in.
Here’s something we didn’t know: the Trolley Witch is a badass gatekeeper for the Hogwarts Express! And apparently Fred and George Weasley had a run-in with her in the past. There’s another lost chapter I’d like to see JKR write: The Weasley Twins’ first and only real encounter with the Trolley Witch, and perhaps why we never heard anything about this before.
“ALL HAVE FAILED. BECAUSE THIS TRAIN – IT DOESN’T LIKE PEOPLE GETTING OFF IT . . .
The TROLLEY WITCH’s hands transfigure into very sharp spikes. She smiles.
So please retake your seats for the remainder of the journey.”
Badass. Anyway, I guess that means nobody was ever brave or stupid (or desperate?) enough to jump off the train. I’m seeing growing evidence of the possibility that Albus does indeed have some Gryffindor in him yet.
In SCENE 12, I’m alarmed that Harry and Hermione (and even McGonagall) didn’t take more notice to the fact that those ingredients were missing from the store cupboard— something that was done outside of a school semester. THEY SHOULD KNOW BETTER THAN ANYONE what this might mean. I’m on the lookout for Polyjuice potion!
When Albus and Scorpius arrive at St Oswald’s, Amos displays perhaps the last bit of sanity he has by turning them away. Doesn’t last long though: cue the curious Delphi. I had my suspicions from the moment I first read her character, and saw how talkative and friendly she was to Albus. A bit alluring, no? Anyway my flags were raised immediately with her from the first time I read this. She’s too friendly. Poor Amos didn’t stand a chance. Scorpius continues to show the only bit of sense and skepticism through this whole ordeal.
As I previously stated, I think the whole spawn of Voldemort thing is just a bit ridiculous. It’s like the most bizarre fan fiction come to life.
SCENE 16: OH LOOK, Delphi helped prepare a Polyjuice potion. SEEMS LEGIT. Or just dramatic irony.
SCENE 17-19 gives us more adults adulting, and I’m starting to enjoy this grown Draco Malfoy. Although he still defends Death Eaters and regards them as higher class than the Pretenders of today, he really shows some emotion after they realize their sons are missing. Harry and Ginny quickly come to the conclusion that they’ve run away. You’d think they’d realize this even without having gotten into a fight with their son; he is, after all, still their son. Rule-breaking runs in the family. Coincidentally (or not..?) Albus and his two companions drink Polyjuice potion to break into the Ministry as other people. Sound familiar?
Also, I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought it was a bit daft that Hermione protected the Time Turner with riddles, of all things, and hid it amongst her books. I mean, I’m sure weaponizing the book shelves would help as well, but the fact is a 14 year old child just beat the protections of one of the most talented witches ever. I’m not buying it! Ridiculous. Too obvious. Hermione clearly has mom-brain.
Probably a great bit of exciting theatre though, that whole bookshelf-swallowing-the-characters thing. I’m STOKED to learn that The Cursed Child will be opening in other cities closer to home, and maybe even broadcast to a theatre somewhere even closer! I’d just love to see this in production. It’s probably better on stage than on paper (bit weird to say that, as I’m usually always a fan of books over movies, especially in the case of HP).
SO, as this is lengthy I’ve decided to just stop here at the end of Act One. There’s more to read and write, but not enough time for now. I’ll do my review in PARTS, just like they did the movies in parts so we had to WAIT for the next bit. See, I’m not lazy I’m just staying true to form. 😀
If you’ve made it this far, I congratulate you. You’re probably as much of a dork as I am. I know you people exist. I know it. I’m going to take a frickin’ break now.
Hope you all had a good Wizard Christmas!