I just returned from a trip to Europe for a wedding and some visits with friends, and while I was there, I got to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in previews. Audience members are sworn to secrecy, though apparently some have managed to share the secret with the general Internet. I, however, am determined to keep the secret and not invoke the fury of our literary queen, JK Rowling.
My friend asked me the other night, “What’s the Cursed Child?” and I’m honestly still trying to figure that out. There are multiple interpretations of the title, probably equally valid, and they all spoil the story. What I will tell you about the plot is this: Harry is trying to figure out this whole fatherhood thing, and it’s understandably difficult since he grew up without a dad. The kids are the children of people who fought for both sides during the wizarding war, and that’s hard. Cursed Child is an adventure story about family, and we understand everyone better at the end of it.
Here are some general thoughts about the play and/or story:
- It’s definitely worth the money. I mean, it’s new Harry Potter. We see flashbacks of Harry’s childhood, and we learn how the wizarding world has progressed in the 19 years following the Battle of Hogwarts.
- Rowling has obviously been listening to her fans. We’ve been asking, “What if such-and-such happened?” for literally years, and she shows us how that would work.
- If you’re into fanfiction, you’ll recognize some things. I mean, this is a next-gen story. It was bound to happen. But even if you read a ton of fanfiction, I think you’ll be surprised by some of the plot twists.
- Numbers 2 and 3 being said, some headcanons are canonized in the play.
- I had forgotten how funny Ron is. Fanfiction made me not like him, and Cursed Child again made me want to be friends with him.
- I feel like the kids are my babies, and I want to give them hugs. Albus Severus Potter, your dad will love you no matter what house you’re in, so give him a hug and get on that train. (I am such a Hufflepuff, and that’s not a spoiler because that’s literally part of the Epilogue)
- Did I mention the flashbacks? Yeah they made me cry.
- The script is obviously being published as a book, but I hope they record the cast and release it on dvd. The production design was incredible. I hope the lighting designer wins an Olivier Award, because that was one of my favorite parts of the show. And the effects! There were stuntmen flying near my face at one point. There’s some Polyjuice. When they cast spells, they shoot fire at each other. Then there’s some beautiful use of a turntable, and beautiful choreography. In short, this play is perfect, and it’s better than a book.
- The actors are the characters, and anyone who thinks Black Hermione is a bad thing needs to sit down, because Noma Dumezweni was absolute perfection. Of course she would be the grownup version of Emma Watson’s Hermione. When she’s acting, she is Hermione Granger, with all her faults and strengths. That’s what matters, and I hope we get some broadcast version so everyone can see that.
- Remember how minimal Ginny was in the movies? She’s better in the play, and she’s vulnerable and incredibly strong. The series was always about Harry Potter, so she’s a smaller role, but she doesn’t let us forget what Tom did to her. She doesn’t let herself be overshadowed, and she doesn’t stay in the background. I love that.
If you’re like me and it’s been a few years since you last read Harry Potter, I would definitely recommend that you reread the series before you read the play. They make a lot of references to the past. The program had a recap of the important details and characters from each book, and that’s helpful, but there’s nothing like reading the books themselves. If you don’t have time to read all seven books, I would say to at least reread the ones about the Second Wizarding War (Goblet of Fire through Deathly Hallows). You’re going to do it anyway, but that means you have four books instead of seven to read in one month.