The script of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the eighth and probably final story about Harry Potter, was finally released yesterday. Written exclusively for the stage by Jack Thorne, JK Rowling, and John Tiffany, the London play is nearly all sold out through December 2017, and Potterheads everywhere celebrated the midnight release with costume parties. Fanfare aside, the big question is, is it worth the read? Here’s ten things to consider (without plot spoilers!):
1. It’s short.
It took me about three hours total to read it, and that’s mostly because I switched between reading, to posting reactions on Twitter, to having to stop to sing every Hamilton song that came on shuffle. But this kid apparently read it in one hour (and wrote a cute, pretty thorough review of it — #kidgoals, amirite), so rest assured it won’t take up too much of your time, or cause you to get too deeply invested in it.
2. It’s basically fanfiction.
Yes, it looks like J.K. Rowling had a hand in some of the writing, but for the most part it appears to be the creation of Jack Thorne. Do I agree with all the characterizations? Nope, definitely not. (Ron is so dumpy in this, and I can’t deal.) Do I feel the plot is a bit contrived? Yep. But it’s short, and it’s a play, so the stuff I didn’t agree with I basically… ignored.
3. The trio is all grown up.
And that’s both good and bad. On one hand, it’s cool to see characters you grew up with actually, you know, grow up with you. (Ash Ketchum, I’m looking at you.) On the other hand, were any of us asking for stories about marital strains, some character’s hating their jobs, and others developing a beer gut? That’s a little too much snatching of the rose-colored glasses for my taste.
4. Hermione is amazing.
No surprise here: Hermione has grown up into an absolutely kick-ass woman. She holds one of the highest positions in the magical world in Cursed Child, and the fact that she’s being played by Noma Dumezweni makes me want to holler.
5. And so is her daughter, Rose Granger-Weasley.
Rose is as smart and savvy as her mother. Played by Cherrelle Skeete, Rose is respected by her peers, and is also crushed on by one of the boys of the play. It is so, so great and important that Skeete was cast and is portrayed as being smart, lovely, and desirable, you guys.
6. It’s all about the Slytherins this time.
Let’s be real, the Harry Potter series really did the Slytherins dirty — and I say that as a Gryffindor. The Slytherins really lacked nuance in the original books. The entire House was really just an evil caricature, to the point where they all had to be locked up during the final battle because apparently nobody could trust a single one of them to not stab everyone else in the back. (Huh, children disagreeing with their parent’s beliefs and rising up against them? What’s that?)
Cursed Child takes a huge step towards rectifying that with Scorpius Malfoy and his relationship with Harry’s son, Albus. We learn more about how the Malfoys have changed since the big battle, and the script explores the idea that yes, you can be a Slytherin without being the actual love child of Darth Vader and Roose Bolton, and yes, Slytherins are actually capable of making friends outside their own House.
7. Scorpius Malfoy makes this book.
Seriously, Draco Malfoy’s son is a gift to this world. I would recommend this book just for him.
8. If you’re waiting for Asians to appear you’re going to wait a very long time.
Like, until old age. One Slytherin character will be played by Jeremy Ang Jones on stage, but things don’t exactly… go well for him. In terms of textually, the only Asian character mentioned from the original series is Padma Patil. She and her kid are mentioned (not seen) only a few times, and the circumstances surrounding them being in the story is… well, I can’t spoil it, but you’re not exactly meant to be happy they’re around. The story doesn’t once mention the other Patil sister, and there’s not one word of Cho Chang.
Ya’ll, I feel so deceived. After the Dumbledore reveal, I really thought we were going to get some actual, textual, not after-the-fact queer representation in the Potterverse. I won’t say between who, but there are several lines and stage directions that can easily be read a certain way, and I was honestly shocked when all that led to nowhere and the heteronormativity continued. I really thought, you guys.
10. Cultural appropriation? Not here.
We can all breathe a sigh of relief with this one. J.K. Rowling’s recent story, A History of Magic in North America, was written as backstory for the upcoming movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. It quickly became clear that Rowling heavily appropriated from various Native American cultures for the story, and that overall she was writing about America and the rest of the world from a very Eurocentric point of view.
Luckily Cursed Child is very much self contained to the same fictional places we’re used to: Hogwarts, Platform 9¾, the Forbidden Forest, etc. There’s no trying to write world history here, only a short story focused on the kids of the original cast, and how they’re dealing with… well, being kids of the original cast.
Is the play perfect? Nah. I’m having issues even picturing this script play out on stage, as it reads as pretty effects heavy. No doubt a lot of these scenes, which are grand and terrifying on the page, are going to be difficult to translate to the stage without looking unintentionally hilarious. There are a lot of characters who I wished made an appearance and didn’t. But all in all, it’s a decent read, with some surprising twists and cameos. The new kids are delightful, and the play is definitely a step forward in terms of representation with Hermione and Rose’s castings.