Gosh this is a hard book to review. I was lucky enough to see a preview performance of The Cursed Child in July, and I absolutely loved it. I laughed, I cried, I well and truly felt the magic. But I can understand the issues people have with the script, I really can.
I think that a livecast in cinemas would have been a much better way of making the play accessible to Potterites worldwide. Trust me, when you’re watching the magic unfold in front of you, you’re far too swept up in the momentum and mesmerising performances to dwell on plot contrivances and contradictions of canon. Because let’s be honest and address this up front, there are plenty.
Yes, when you’re reading it there in black and white, the whole idea of Voldemort having a long lost secret daughter is hilariously like the stuff of bad fanfiction. Kids running around with Time-Turners changing the past willy-nilly doesn’t seem like the sort of concept that would ever have come from Jo. And the adult Harry has grown into can seem disappointing and disheartening.
But there’s so much here that I still absolutely adore. Scorpius Malfoy is an absolute gift. He’s such a poppet I want to shrink him down to miniature and keep him in my pocket for all time. The friendship between Albus and Scorpius is both the heart and backbone of the play, and quite rightly so. It’s the smaller, more intimate moments that really shine. One-on-one scenes between Harry and Draco, Ginny and Harry, Draco and Scorpius, Ron and Hermione (I’m going to stop before I just list every single one in the play) bring out the best of all involved and humanise the characters regardless of the outlandish circumstances they find themselves in.
My favourite segment arises from Time-Turner hocus pocus, and yes, I freely admit that an alternate future in which Ron and Hermione lead a rebel resistance against Voldemort with the aid of their ally Snape is a concept as ridiculous as it is hilarious. But I love it. That glimpse of what could have been, and the incredible bravery on the part of all involved to return Scorpius to his rightful timeline truly moved me.
If there’s a single character who comes across best in The Cursed Child, it’s surprisingly Draco Malfoy. Yet the idea of his redemption and tentative friendship with the Trio feels like an organic development of everything we already knew, rather than a contrivance shoehorned in.
Forced to pick a single best moment, it would have to be a harassed Headmistress McGonagall lamenting that she can’t give Minister for Magic Hermione a detention. There isn’t a single thing about that moment that isn’t beautiful.
I could ramble about this play for days, I really could. For the sake of a semi-coherent review, however – yes I acknowledge that the plot has flaws. But there’s still so, so much here to love. And as a wise woman once said, the stories we love best do live in us forever.
[Read from 31 July-11 August 2016]