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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Totally Worth It

If you are, have been, or recently became a fan of the Harry Potter book series, the news that an “eighth book” was coming out probably made you go “OOH” or “YAAAAY” or quite possibly “why?” and then when it was revealed that the eighth book would be the scriptbook for a stage play, you probably went “oh, okay, nevermind, I mean, I guess that’s cool” or, alternatively, you proceeded to lose your shit completely, at least if you’re a theatre geek. I did something in between.

I have never been to a midnight release of a Harry Potter book, and probably wouldn’t have been to one ever if my girlfriend had not been working at a bookstore where such an event was taking place. Nonetheless, I put on my robe and wizard hat, placed my dueling wand in my pocket, and proceeded to sit and loiter and generally avoid the other people in the store for hours, speaking only when spoken to, and even then in a falsely assertive Scottish accent, until it was finally time to purchase the item itself.

Guys, gals, gentlebeings, errehbody listen up.

Totally worth it.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the the wombo combo eighth book/movie you direct in your head. The writing is excellent, and as someone whose love of dialogue borders on the tasteful, it was everything I wanted and more. Owing to the nature of stage scripts (and scripts in general), most of the writing IS dialogue, with only minor direction, and information to dress the scene and set each the tone. Each character is well written, doing great justice to the original cast of the Harry Potter septilogy, and bringing in new characters whose struggles engage and engross. Buy this book. Read this book. Love this book.

I will admit that I was initially leery of the story that Cursed Child set out to tell for a couple of reasons, both of which involve information some would likely consider spoilers, so without further ado:

SPOILERS AHEAD!! STOP IF YOU DON’T WANT ANYTHING SPOILED FOR YOU!! THE SPOILERS MOSTLY HAVE TO DO WITH THINGS THAT THE STORY ISN’T ABOUT OR THINGS THAT DON’T HAPPEN IN IT, BUT SOME PEOPLE ARE SENSITIVE ABOUT THAT, SO JUST MOVE ALONG IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW!!

Point, the first: The synopsis of the book as it was given to me by the internet, way back when it was first announced that this was a thing that was happening, was that The Cursed Child would be the story of Harry and his son Albus, as Albus struggles with the reality of living in his father’s massive shadow at Hogwarts and Harry struggles with the realities of being massively overworked, being henpecked by his wife, and the idea that his glory days are behind him. The book both is, and isn’t, about those things. On Albus, yes. On Harry, not so much, and I was actually quite pleased to NOT see the Boy Who Lived moping about his sorry state quite nearly as much as he does in the main set of books. Let’s be honest, he’s still Harry, and he still has doubts and concerns about himself and his ability to solve difficult problems, but he’s not as self-pitying about it as I had been led to expect. THIS IS A GOOD THING.

Point, first +1: Because of Rowling’s involvement in the project (even though it was at the tail end) and remarks she has made through twitter and in various interviews about how she believes, in hindsight, that Ron and Hermione would probably have needed a lot of couples’ therapy to survive together and probably would not be able to be very happy or stable with each other (insinuating that Hermione and Harry would have been a much better couple), I was concerned about how those relationships would be portrayed. I understand where those statements from Rowling come from, I think- seeing how the actors for the movies interacted, drifted together and drifted apart, Movie!Harry and Movie!Hermione are a much better fit together, much more compatible, much more agreeable in company with each other, than Movie!Ron and Movie!Hermione. Rowling spent years with those versions of her characters. Let me be clear: THOSE characters are NOT the same as those in the books. I was concerned their characters would be bent in some way, shape, or form, to accommodate this new view.

Thankfully, my concern turned out to be needless.

There was a brief moment in an early scene where I wasn’t certain if Harry and Hermione were attempting to converse in code about an affair that they had or were having or not, but there was nothing else in the entire rest of the script to support that, and in fact the couples are, if not entirely happy, still very much in love with their partners. To me, that was a relief, as there is PLENTY going on in the story already without complicating it with extramarital shenanigans.

There is nothing to prevent a director or actors from pursuing that angle, however, so worry not. A script is MADE to be adapted to one’s vision. That’s part of what makes this book even greater than it already is. As I mentioned earlier, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the movie or play you direct in your head. The special-effects budget is unlimited, the actors are as good or as bad as you want, and the subtext and emotional interpretation of most of the dialogue is up to you. And the sarcasm… the sarcasm is i/glorious/i.

Buy this book. Then buy this book for that friend or family member who has only ever seen the movies. Tell them “if you read no other Harry Potter book, read this one. Trust me. Rowan from the internet says you’ll love it.”

They’ll be like “Who?”

Totally worth it.

Rowan Hansen
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