SPOILERS! On Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Script
At first it was all the traveling and taking care of business and visiting relatives that kept me busy. I also watched rather than read for quite some time: The new season of Orange is the New Black (its powerful effect stayed with me), a lot of documentaries, and then finally got to watch Breaking Bad from beginning to end. I also, simultaneously started working on three papers but the world got even crazier with the Alton Sterling and Philando Castile’s shootings by police, the protests which were followed with the Dallas protest shootings, attacks in Istanbul Airport (less than 24 hours before we were leaving Istanbul for Barcelona), the terror attack in Nice while in Barcelona, a coup-attempt in Turkey, the RNC and DNC conventions, so I had no desire to continue on those papers. Somehow it seemed moot to continue writing about architecture, art, books, film, philanthropy and museums. I was immensely sad and worried and got hooked on news on all types of media.
And then, it happened: Once I realized I wasn’t going to use the tickets I was offered for the two-part play to watch the 8th story on the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in London’s Palace Theatre, I couldn’t resist downloading the script to read. Years ago during my most difficult years the only books I was able to read were Non-Fiction (history, biography, self-help and how-to). I couldn’t read any Fiction, except for Children’s and Young Adult books (and except for some Stephen King because hey, he’s the greatest story-teller of all times with the most active imagination, and just saying, “Oh, I’ll read just one page and leave it" never happens as life stops for everything else until it gets finished.)
Yes, the only Fiction books I could read, and finish, were books of Harry Potter, Twilight—I know, I know, don’t judge me, I really needed an easy read to escape from the real world!—and Hunger Games and the like, and other Children’s books. It all started with Harry Potter though, a perfect example of the Hero’s Journey, with great writing and master story-telling; and now years later, it came back with a script that got ME back to action. So it’s all good in that sense I guess.
Now, there is so much wrong with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child that I don’t know where to begin exactly: Let me start by saying that when I first heard that there would not be a new book but a script I applauded it. Because, I have always been quite surprised to find out that many people don’t read books! I have met so many millennials whom I like talking about, say, Hunger Games, and learn that they were impatiently waiting for the last film to come out because they wanted to know what was to happen. Surprised, I’d ask, “What? You haven’t read the book?” Turns out, a lot don’t! So a straight-to-script story release is a good idea because people are accustomed to film, or some type of acting like theatre, and for them reading a script might be easier. Also I think in our world of multi-tasking, shorter attention spans, much less focus, reading books is getting even more difficult to many anyways.
The other reason why I like the idea is personal: I am accustomed to reading scripts. I have taken screenwriting classes and I like to write dialogues more than essays having even written assignments in which I had to explain concepts in imaginary dialogues between people who talk about issues to each other. I always thought how professors must be bored of reading the same type of papers from students on and on, and believed they needed some entertainment too.
So I can say that in my opinion Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, as a script, is not even written well in the true screenplay format. It is more written for the regular book reader; like, you can’t know feelings as such. Something written between dialogues that says, (He looks at him appreciatively), for example. Instead the script has teenagers, (boys!) saying they love each other, and, they hug all the time! And I really mean all the time! Many times I was shocked to read this, wondering if this was a joke. I don’t know any teenagers who keep saying that they love the each other, much less hug this often. (Now you can say these are Wizard kids so things might be different there but if Wizards celebrate Christmas—a fact I never really comprehended—then, come on, I am right to expect them to act like Muggle kids.)
There was a point I seriously thought it would lead to something romantic which, had it happened would have been much, much better in my opinion. Like I thought yes, Albus has a thing for older women with his adoration of Delphi—this I liked as it is quite common in the teenagers of today: they like MILFs and there are so many more hot looking, successful women around now than did in the last century. And that yes, even though Scorpius does adore Rose, to me it was more like admiration and that he in fact loved Albus. I seriously thought some hugging was going to lead to some kissing. Clearly author Jack Thorne does not know any teenagers or the script is not written for them anyway.
But Thorne did try to pick up the theme of the Hero’s Journey, in which it was about the loneliness some children feel, and are sorry, and have a hard time living up to the family names and legends: A common issue nowadays as there are more and more successful/prominent people and their children are having harder times of course. Themes of being bullied and being judgmental are also touched upon yet in real life are not as easily resolved as in this script. If only they were! The script made it seem like overcoming these huge problems could be very easily dealt and done with.
Ok, so it is about Time Turners and traveling in time. Really? At one point I kept thinking of Back to the Future, and Mr. Destiny, the 90s film with James Belushi, Linda Hamilton, Michael Caine and Rene Russo. As things got more and more complicated, and then were corrected so quickly and easily, it became supremely ridiculous.
I also thought it was misogynistic. Now call me a feminist and seeing things that aren’t, but I found it extremely disturbing that Hermione in an alternate life in which she doesn’t get to marry Ron, doesn’t become the Minister that she is in the real life. She stays single which is completely fine but more importantly, becomes the most bitter (embittered?) person ever. Come on! I can’t be the only person who was bothered by all this.
Ultimately though, I kept thinking the script is about Fathers and Sons and the Love of Fathers for their Sons: Amos wants to bring his son Cedric back to life (and who in this terrifying position wouldn’t wish for that, however it did remind me of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary), Draco is worried about his son Scorpius whom he loves and almost lives for, Harry worries about his son Albus, and there is the whole issue of the probability of Voldemort having a son—evidently this unbelievable fact is somewhat true as it turns out Voldemort has a daughter.
There is also the issue of Love: Of Ron and Hermione, Snape and Lily, and, Astoria and Draco’s. And of course the luck of having great Friendship, in how Draco, and even Ginny, were envious of the friendship between Harry, Ron and Hermione, and the one that develops between Albus and Scorpius.
But, it is stupidest script ever! It should have never been picked up for production the way it is. The characters are not well developed and the dialogues are bothersome, because one, no one talks like that, not even in theatre—and I see more shows per year than the average person, so I know—and two, they are too much in your face: Like the kind of so-called “Art”, which spells it out for you and doesn’t require you to use any thinking or imagination. Everything is wrong frankly.
One thing I did notice—did this happen in the books? I don’t remember—is that the characters say things like “Thank Dumbledore!” as in “Thank God”, or “By Dumbledore”, as in “By God”. And one scene in which Harry talks to the portrait of Dumbledore asking for guidance felt to me like praying, asking help from Jesus or God and receiving information somehow.
Turns out Dumbledore is not even in portraits most of the time as he is busy elsewhere (not helping much there either considering our troubled world). Because even when he does show up his advice is wrong, or rather cryptic, and Harry misinterprets it and acts on it wrongly. Even Dumbledore himself says; “what do I know about being a father?” All along as if to say, don’t look for guidance for what you perceive to be an authority, or divine entity. Perhaps love blinds us all, as is the other theme in the book, and that instead we should ask for Friends for advice who would know better.
I guess in our heart of hearts we too knew this was going to be wrong: A script about Harry Potter and the Wizarding World years ahead written by somebody other than JK Rowling. But then again love blinds us. A love that we had for the story, these characters, and to return to the time when we first felt the exhilaration of reading about their lives and adventures, wanting to be a Hero, a wizard ourselves.
But look what happened here with the script, and I guess, in the script. Leave the past as it is. Accept.
Try not think too much of this bad story and move on. To new stories.
There is no other choice anyway.