"JJ Abrams takes on Harry Potter"
So, this opened on Sunday as a stage production, but the script was released in book form same day... I'm placing this here because it's a seamless continuation of the Potter franchise, but if the mods think this should be moved to Books or elsewhere I'm game.
Basically, I loved this, though due to being a stage production it surprisingly plays more than a little like "JJ Abrams takes on Harry Potter." What I mean by that is that while it's definitely a sequel, it carries the hallmarks of a JJ production in a number of ways:
- Plot contrivances that allow for nostalgic or previously beloved characters and scenes to be invoked again
- Rapid transitions between critical events (a consequence of being written for Stage)
- Excellent character work that makes up for both of the above
While that sounds like a huge knock against it, I'll say again - I really loved this (going off of the script only), and getting to spend time in that world with these characters again was like seeing old friends.
From here on I'll be lightly delving into spoilers, so fair warning - Nothing critical and nothing involving plot specifics or anything related to the ending, but to talk about what worked and what didn't I need to speak a little about the central Mcguffin that allows the story to take place.
While Harry, Hermoine, Ron, Ginny and Draco all get decent page time, our protagonists are Albus Severus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy. And if you'd told me a year ago that my new favorite Potter character was going to be named Scorpius "Scorpion King" Malfoy, I would have told you to fuck right the hell off. Scorpius is delightful, and the best person out of the lot. I mean that - he's the nicest character, written like a jovial mix of Ron's good nature and Hermoine's geeky smarts. Draco raised a good egg.
Albus is a bit of a tortured soul, in the way that all kids feel tortured at one time or another. Remember how you wanted to strangle Harry and Ron for basically all of the 4th book/film, and most of the 5th? Well, you'll feel those urges again for about half of this story with Albus. There's an event that takes place almost immediately post-Deathly Hallows Epilogue that I won't spoil, but affects him deeply and contributes to a rocky father/son relationship.
Come to think of it, you'll also want to strangle Harry for about half the story (or more) as well. Mostly taking place 22 years after the end of Deathly Hallows (Albus and Scorpius are 14 for most of their adventure) Harry hasn't figured out this whole fatherhood thing when it comes to his middle child, and you'll remember what a jerk he was when he was a kid (moreso in the books than the films, they wisely toned it down in the translation to screen but in the books I remember wanting Voldemort to just be done with him more than once).
On the flip side, Hermoine is wonderfully herself, Ron is jovial but uselessish, but Draco is the one who gets to shine a bit. All of the character growth you were hoping might happen to Draco in a post-Voldemort world we actually get shown here, and it's fantastic. A completely pleasant surprise.
The central adventure relies on the use of a Time Turner, which serves a few purposes: Our young protagonists get to go back in time and view their parents at critical moments from the earlier books (there's that JJ-nostalgia), and promptly proceed to fuck things up. This in turn allows for some alternate futures to be visited on their quest to put things right, which means some previously deceased characters get to have another moment in the sun (there's that JJ "it's delightful!"-ness). While normally this would have annoyed the heck out of me, any excuse to see Severus Snape in action again is worth the sacrifice.
* If you had any doubt about who the true hero of the Potter series was, hopefully Cursed Child will lay that to rest. And due to the Timey Wimey weirdness, we get to see Snape as we really haven't ever before, however brief.
In the end, Cursed Child introduced us to a pair of wonderful new characters in Albus and Scorpius, and I'd gladly follow their adventures for years to come, provided Harry took an even more diminished role. I will say that I fervently hope they can resist turning this into a film and that it continues to live only on Stage and Page - as a play I expect this is completely delightful. As a film we'd be laying into it like the script for Trek 2009.
Edited by Analog Olmos - 8/1/16 at 3:43pm