Sunday, August 7, 2016

Harry Potter and the Play as Sequel

I finished Harry Potter and the Cursed Child this weekend, and have many feels about it.  Spoilers dwell below

First, it is strange reading a script for a play.  It simply is.  The good news is that it is a script for very familiar characters in a familiar universe, so it was not hard to visualize stuff.  Still, it just does not feel the same.

Second, because one of the central points of tension is between Harry and Albus, one of his sons, and I read this shortly after having a less than positive interaction with my father (ironically, it was mostly about a HP-inspired argument), I really did not enjoy reading one of my favorite characters screw up being a dad.  Of course, the whole point is that we are supposed to feel icky, sad, and disappointed that Harry and Albus don't get along, and that this leads to Albus doing incredibly dumb and dangerous stuff. 

Third, time travel.  In some ways, this felt like Back to the Future with repeated trips into the past fix the mistakes of past time travel.  Each effort to change the past made things far worse and increasingly so.  I am not sure I buy the casual dynamics whereby humiliating Cedric a bit changes the future in a way that Ron and Hermione don't get together, and I definitely don't buy Cedric getting humiliated bigtime leading to Neville dying, but, of course, I do get that Neville dying does lead to Voldemort winning and all the yuck that came along with that. But it was fun to see folks in their alternative realities.

Fourth, and most importantly, more Harry Potter and more JK Rowling is, indeed, more HP and JK.  It was great to be back in that universe, it was great to see how the various characters developed as adults.  Ginny, once again, comes off really well on the page (a bit less so in the movies)--that she proves in this play that she is the perfect spouse for Harry.  Harry?  He was flawed in the books (especially the whiny Harry of Order of the Phoenix), so it makes sense that he is flawed as an adult. 

Fifth, Draco and Scorpius are rendered really well as complex characters.  Nice to see that Draco becomes more complex and complicated and conflicted as he gets older.  Nice to see that his son turns out to have a big heart.  Slytherins can have big hearts! 

Sixth, the key themes of love and friendship from the first seven books play a big role in shaping the outcome here.  No role for property rights, this time, however. 

Will I read this book as many times as I have read the others?  Probably not quite as many simply because it is more fun to read a novel than it is to read a script. 

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