(Throwback Thursday): Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: A Spork Review (Part 3 of 4)

November 30, 2017

 

(There will be four sections of this review, one for each Act. Part 1 and 2 are here. Spoilers and ranting below).

 

Well, my reviewing has somewhat slowed because my reading has also slowed—to a freaking crawl if I’m frank. I never thought I’d see the day where I had to force myself to read Harry Potter… yet here we are. 

 

Let’s get this over with. 

 

For all those who’ve forgotten (and it’s a seriously wonky plot so I wouldn’t blame you), we’re now in the third timeline, the one where Cedric is stopped from completing the second task and everything goes to hell. Now here’s the thing about Harry Potter: for all it’s Dark Lords and prophecies, there’s a certain amount of lovely subtlety in the original books. One of the reasons (for me at least) that characters like Umbridge were so unnerving was because of the little ways they made your skin crawl. It’s just following the rules. Or just a smile. Just cute kittens on the wall. Even just a quill... rather than a more overtly sinister instrument like the Cruciatus Curse. But we all know how those ‘little’ things are made so very horrifying. 

 

That being said, this Voldemort---ruled world feels heavy-handed in comparison. We’ve got: 

  • Umbridge is Headmistress of Hogwarts. 

  • Everyone is forced to repeat the phrase “For Voldemort and Valor” after each interaction. Enough times reading it and you want to bash your head in. 

  • A Scorpius who is now mean and cruel. He never does his own homework and is apparently the “King” around Hogwarts. He’s also athletic now, a seeker. Rowling, Tiffany, and Thorne seem to put a lot of stock in ‘nurture’ over ‘nature.’ 

  • Continuing the ‘you’re a totally different person!’ theme, Polly is super interested in Scorpius in this timeline. She wants to take him to the Blood Ball this year. (Yeah… Blood Ball…) 

  • “I am also interested [in you]. And that isn’t a rumor.” 

  • (SOMETHING ISN’T A RUMOR? Amazing). 

  • Kids walk to class listening to the soothing screams of Mudbloods in the dungeons. 

  • “Potter” is now used as a curse. (Balancing “Dumbledore” as a praise from the previous timeline) 

  • There’s apparently so much torture and death around that Polly nonchalantly curses (read: “Potter”) when she gets blood on her shoes. 

  • And there are vague references to “the Augurey.” It reads like we should know what that is, but we don’t. It’s a surprise for the end, shhhh.  

Basically everything is awful and unfathomably dark. Like I said, very heavy-handed. To the point of being cheesy.

 

Meanwhile, Scorpius runs off to see Draco at the Ministry and learns about MORE awfulness. Wizards are blowing up bridges “to see how many Muggles they can kill with one blow.” There are Mudblood death camps (yes, they full on went there). Scorpius looks at Draco and says, “I’ve done bad things, you’ve done worse. What have we become, Dad?” Wow. How impactful.

 

Honestly though, this scene is one of the least horrible overall. Draco talks about how he defied his father to marry Astoria (too bad we know basically nothing about her and, you know, she was killed off for man angst). Draco also agrees to turn a blind eye to whatever Scorpius is up to, asking only that he “do it safely.” As said, one of the less shitter moments. 

 

But then we’re right back to the awful. 

 

Cedric apparently becomes a Death Eater. Yes, we both read that right. I’ll be ranting about him later. 

 

All we need to know for now is that Cedric kills Neville, so Neville can’t kill Nagini, so Voldemort survives, Harry dies, the wizarding world falls, etc. etc. The only thing I’m letting myself take out of this is how awesome Neville is. He’s the key to everything. The universe’s linchpin, one of the best characters in the entire franchise.

 

Too bad he’s not in the freaking play so far. 

 

And by "so far" I mean we have one Act left. 

 

So. 

 

Meanwhile Scorpius learns that Snape is still alive and immediately runs to his office. He explains everything about his time travel saying, “I know you’re a good man. Harry Potter told his son you’re a great man.” Snape learns about Albus’ middle name and “is deeply moved.” 

 

You know what? Give Snape some love. I’m fine with that. He’s an incredibly compelling character and easily a fan favorite, even if he was an obsessive, abusive, Nazi bastard (but that’s a rant for another day). I’m all for the narrative acknowledging his supposed goodness… but not at the expense of the other characters. 

 

Seriously. Snape is exalted while everyone else is left in the dust. 

 

But we’ve got to bear it. Snape takes Scorpius to what’s left of the resistance. Hermione is “full warrior” now (she wasn’t before?) and Ron has spiky hair, though he’s “slightly less good at the rebel look than Hermione is.” Beyond the continued ‘Ron is now nothing more than a useless caricature’ theme, I can only take Hermione ‘pulling off the rebel look’ to mean that she’s now the hot dystopian chick of this series. Please excuse me while I gag. 

 

So Snape and Darco appear and Ron tries to get his wand out but holds it the wrong way: “I’m armed and–entirely dangerous–”

 

aRE YOU KIDDING ME? 

 

Apparently it’s a miracle Ron survived infancy. Let alone the war. 

 

But we’re still not done with the Ron-bashing. It’s stupidly emphasized that he’s “less wanted” than Hermione (meaning Voldemort’s government wants her dead but doesn’t consider Ron a threat), later again Hermione says, “They’re after me, not any of you,” later again Ron tires to butt in with “Well, they are after me a bit,” and he’s hurt that she’s Minister in this other world and he only runs a joke shop. The narrative literally acknowledges that running the shop and the shop alone is something Ron can’t imagine as a future for himself… and then continues to ignore it. 

 

Hermione also has some of her mean streak left: “Close your mouth when you’re looking at me, Weasley.” But she calls Snape “Severus.” 

 

What. 

 

Ugh. Alright. So while all this trash is going on they decide they need to help Scorpius fix the timelines–-obviously. But going outside is super dangerous because of the dementors. That’s only mildly important because boiled down the plot is: Hermione briefly declares her love for Ron, they go back in time, stop the previous Albus/Severus from interfering with Cedric during the first task, theoretically fix things, come back, and immediately get their souls sucked out. 

 

…yep. 

 

Oh, and the Time Turner also hurts Ron like it hurt Albus, but there’s still no explanation for why that happens. Still not holding my breath for one. 

 

Scorpius and Snape escape down to the lake and all sorts of ridiculousness goes down. First off, Snape says that in this timeline he “couldn’t save Harry for Lily. So I gave myself to the cause she believed in”…which implies that Snape was only truly a part of the light after Harry died in the Battle of Hogwarts. Seriously. Think about that. The only time Snape “couldn’t save Harry” was during the battle and THEN he “gave myself to the cause”? What was he doing before that??

 

Only caring about himself, I assume. 

 

Meanwhile, with this timeline’s Ron and Hermione dead the dementors come for them next. Snape tells Scorpius to think of Albus–-”You’re giving up your kingdom for Albus, right?–--and honestly there’s so much potential gay here I want to scream. I do scream because instead of an actual Socrpius/Albus relationship we get Snape’s doe patronus again, the narrative trying to tell us that obsessing over a woman who you threw slurs at and who dared to love another man is ‘true love,’ but cute teenage boys willing to die for one another are ‘just friends.’  

 

And then I shriek because Scorpius turns to Snape and goes, “Thank you for being the light in my darkness” and we get the stage directions: Snape looks at him, every inch a hero, he softly smiles. “Tell Albus–-tell Albus Severus–-I’m proud he carries my name.” 

 

*cracks knuckles* Okay

  1. What teenage boy is going to look up at a grown man and say, “Thank you for being the light in my darkness”? 

  2. What teenage boy is going to say that to the grown man he met like 20mins ago?

  3. Do we really need to know that he’s “every inch a hero”? We had whole books trying to convince us of that. 

  4. Snape also has to “smile softly” to further convince us. Remember that THESE brief moments are what matter. Smiling at a kid completely makes up for years of abusing them in your classroom!

  5. Love that Snape gets all this and Ron and Hermione barely get half his death scene. A quarter. Nothing at all. 

  6. I still will not accept that name. 

Let’s move on for the sake of my health. Snape gets kissed and Scorpius escapes. Fixing the rest of the timeline (aka stopping themselves from stopping Cedric in the second task–--this plot is a mess) seems to happen off screen, because all of the sudden we’re back in the original timeline. Scorpius and Albus both appear in the lake where they’re found by McGonagall and their parents. Scorpius loses the Time Turner somewhere in the water. 

 

Up in McGonagall’s office she yells at everyone, which is one of the other not-horrible moments in this play. She even threatens to give the Minister (Hermione) detention. Though then things are ruined again when she tells not only Albus and Scorpius, but Harry and co. that they “have no idea how dark the wizarding wars got.” Uh… I'm pretty sure the trio has a pretty good idea? Harry most of all?

 

Just saying. 

 

Harry and Albus have a heart-to-heart about how Harry “didn’t volunteer for adventure, I was forced into it,” which is what I’ve been saying about Albus’ messy characterization all along. They don’t actually solve anything between them though (kinda hard when we don’t know what their problem is) and instead Harry promises to lock away the Marauders Map forever and… wow. Wow. REALLY don’t think ditching one of the most powerful magical objects in existence and one of the few material links you have to Sirius + your parents is the way to go. But apparently that’s what we’re getting, so. 

 

Also, we get this: Harry says Ginny left Albus’ room “exactly as it was when you ran away… [she] wouldn’t let me in,” making it sound like Albus been gone months rather than, what? A day? Two? Who the hell knows. 

 

Harry has another dream where he and Aunt Petunia are at his parents’ grave. Albus is trapped in Voldemort’s robes. Yeah, I don’t care either. 

 

Back with Scorpius and Albus. Turns out Scorpius kept the Time Turner----he lied about losing it----because he thinks they need to destroy it themselves. Bad decision Number 1. Bad decision Number 2 is when he tries to hug Rose and she kicks him in the shin, supposedly building “tension” between them. WHY is this play pushing their relationship when we could have cute gay boys that actually interact and care about each other? Did JKR learn nothing after the backlash against Dumbledore?

 

The boys run off to destroy the Time Turner. Harry and Ginny realize their kids are missing–--again. We get more awful characterization as Ginny accuses Harry of saying something else to set Albus off (how often has this happened off screen, huh?) and claims that “the more mistakes you make, the harder to forgive you it becomes.” 

 

Real talk: I’m all for the trio dealing with their shit. PLEASE get them therapy. Getting married and having kids immediately after a war like that is going to have some serious consequences… but not illogical consequences like these. These characters throwing out how they don’t love each other/can’t forgive each other… that would not happen. Not at their age, not after all they’ve been through together. Ginny was the one who calmly reminded Harry that she’d also been possessed by Voldemort when he was acting like a dick. Years of maturity later she’s not going to go, “Wow, my rebellious, impulsive son has run off again. Must be your fault. Kinda hate you now.” 

 

We leave them (thank god) and return to the boys trying to destroy the Time Turner. But then Delphi arrives because Albus owled her. There’s more talk of Death Eater!Cedric. Specifically that, “Humiliating Cedric turned him into a very angry young man, and then he became a Death Eater.” 

 

Okay.

 

First of all, did we read the same books? This is Cedric, a Hufflepuff, a member of the stereotypically ‘useless’ house. He heard Harry Freaking Potter’s name get called right after he thought he’d secured the Hogwart’s championship. He was then ignored in the press because HARRY POTTER was the unexpected champion. He then had to get saved by Harry TWICE in the maze. Cedric has been through a whole lot of humiliation. Oddly enough, none of that turned him dark. 

 

Second, this is Cedric Diggory. Noble Cedric who offered to replay the Quidditch match when Harry was overcome by the dementors, despite the fact that he’d won it fair and square. Who asked his friends not to wear Malfoy’s insulting badges. Who shared tournament info with Harry even though he didn’t have to. Who agreed to share the cup with him too. Who was then MURDERED as a SPARE and minutes later still helped Harry to escape, asking only that he get his body back to his family. You’re telling me that this guy became a Death Eater because he floats out of the water? 

 

And third, screw this lazy writing. Even if that was just the catalyst----even if a million other things happened to turn Cedric dark----it doesn’t matter because we don’t know about them. You can’t jump straight from “angry young man” to “Death Eater” and expect us to buy it. Newsflash: they’re all angry young men. They’re teenagers.  By this logic our protagonist Albus should be killing off the rest of the cast any second now. 

 

Needless to say this is one of the stupidest and most insulting moments of the play. We’re moving on.

 

Delphi takes the Time Turner and Albus conveniently notices her tattoo then, which is an Augurey. We learn the Augurey is some creepy, magical bird. She’s The Augurey Scorpius heard about in the dark timeline. Surprise, surprise. She snaps both their wands and takes them back into the past. AGAIN. 

 

Meanwhile… jfc. Meanwhile Ron and Hermione are chatting. Ron tells Hermione to shut up and then says he wants to get married again because he was black out drunk during their wedding. He says he “can’t remember much of it” and wants to marry her “sober” this time. 

 

…I could easily go on another four-paragraph rant about this, but I don’t have it in me. Just think about how horrific that is for a moment. Take your time. 

 

We get more Ron bashing as Harry and Ginny arrive, wherein Ginny snidely asks him to get to the point about where he’s seen Albus. Ron isn’t worried. He spotted Albus with his “older girlfriend” and thinks it’s “nice to see my love potion being used well.” 

 

AKA: “Hi, Ginny! Oh yeah, Albus is fine. I’m so pleased your underage son is using my potion to rape a girl nearly a decade older than him! Aren’t you proud?” 

 

The whole gang goes to see Amos, where he continues to be an ass to Harry about Cedric. We get----*gasp!*----the reveal that Delphi is not in fact his niece. Also confirmation that she wasn’t using Imperio to make him an ass. That’s seriously all Amos. 

 

RIP the Diggorys. 

 

Back with the boys. Delphi admits that she wants to herald in this dark world and that humiliating Cedric is the key: “He needs to fly out of the maze naked on a broomstick made of purple feather dusters” 

 

HOW DID HARRY POTTER COME TO THIS? 

 

Albus stupidly tells Delphi she’ll need to use Imperio on them if she wants their help (why give her that idea?) but no, that’s not an option because----*gasp 2!*----there’s a new prophecy: 

 

“When spares are spared, when time is turned, when unseen children murder their fathers: then will the Dark Lord return.” 

 

Basically Albus has to do this of his own volition. Otherwise Voldemort will never come back.

 

… and honestly, I feel like our authors just took out all the major plot points that made the books great and thought smashing them together was key. “Well I have a boy, time travel, a prophecy, and a dark lord. Stuff everything we’ve seen across seven books into one play and it’ll be amazing!” 

 

So they go back. AGAIN. But this time it’s all good because in the Third Task the French give a “fulsome cheer” for their champion, which was something they were trying to achieve this whole time.

 

Thank god. The suspense was killing me. 

 

Delphi starts flying without a broom and yeah, that’s not explained. Scorpius gets hit with three Crucios. Seems fine. They land in the Third Task but Cedric saves them! And apparently he’s just stupid enough to think these two Hogwarts kids tied up and talking about his dad are a part of the task somehow. Delphi goes back to the original timeline (again) and the boys just barely jump on for the ride. She then breaks the Time Turner and flies away, her plan foiled. For now. 

 

We end with Harry and co. exploring Delphi’s room at the Old Wizards Home. Ron gets one more moment of bumbling stupidity (RON (shouting as he hammers on the wall): “What you hiding? What you got?”) before Ginny finds a hidden chamber… opened by Parseltongue…with a prophecy written on the wall… you get what I’m saying about repeating your plot points, right? 

 

The last thing they find is what Delphi has written on the ceiling: that she’ll avenge her father. 

 

So yeah. Voldemort got it on. 

 

I’ll leave you with that lovely image. 

 

Favorite lines of this Act: 

  • “Sometimes costs are made to be borne.” (Awkward). 

  • “Dog diggity, Cedric Diggory----you are a doggy dynamo.” (Someone please put me out of my misery). 

  • “There’s a fog inside me - around me” (Might want to see a doctor about that). 

  • “Well, I was wrong too---to think Scorpius was Voldemort’s son. He wasn’t a black cloud.” (“Yer a black cloud, ‘Arry.”) 

  • “I am----Socrpius the Dreadless. I am----Malfoy the Unanxious.” (Put this on his gravestone)

  • “And why was I so determined to do this? Cedric? Really?” (GOOD QUESTIONS) 

  • “Bread Head.” (????) 

  • “Children, particularly male children, are so naturally pliant, aren’t they?” (Your male children are supple tree limbs. Water them frequently). 

  • “Albus. I am the new past” (I am also your father) 

  • “I want to rebirth the Dark” (Bonus points for having a woman say that) 

  • Cedric saying, “Name yourselves beasts, I can fight you” and “Then I shall” because apparently he thinks he’s a muggle knight now or something. 

  • “Are you aware of how stupid you’ve been?” (Are you aware how stupid this play is?) 

Had to end with that, obviously.

 

See you for the final round  <3 

 

 

 

 

Image Credit

 

#1: http://www.playbill.com/article/harry-potter-and-the-cursed-child-in-discussions-to-play-broadways-lyric

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