Seriously, spoilers. It takes 2-4 hours to read. Go read the play (or watch it if you’re able). Otherwise, go away. I’m going to spoil things. It’s the only way to reasonably talk about the play. I’m not kidding. We’re going to talk about deaths, unplanned children, etc.
Ok, are they gone? Let’s talk about this.
I have a lot of thoughts, but we’ll start with the big one: To a certain extent, the play feels like Harry Potter fanfiction. This thought popped into my head on my own, but evidently I’m not the only one.
The books are canon. We can all agree on that, but where do we draw the line? An interesting take I heard on the Imaginary Worlds podcast is that the movies are glorified fanfiction. They take liberties from the source material, even though they’re “official,” so can you call the movies canon? Not really.
The play feels the same way to an extent. Rowling gave input into the play by providing the story, but she didn’t provide every detail, which is basically the same as the movies. If you were to go back and make a book around the same story, it wouldn’t be the same. The play doesn’t quite have Rowling’s same thumbprint on it. The basic story structure is pretty much canon, but how we get there doesn’t feel the same.
At times, the story felt inauthentic (he said about the fictional fantasy world). The dialogue was very… Phantom Menace-y.
Honestly, I think there was something along the lines of a yippee more than once in the play. And in case you’re thinking “there are kids in the play,” I’m pretty sure the yippee came when the characters would have been 14. So that was a problem.
The other part was that it felt like revisionist history to a certain extent (he says about the fictional fantasy story that is based extensively on the use of a time-turner). Much like Rowling saying she thought Harry and Hermione should have ended up together, this book felt like she was giving the characters the endings she wanted them to have, which felt forced. Much like the Star Wars prequels featuring entirely too many connections to the original trilogy, there were multiple mentions and appearances of characters from the original series, including some characters who should certainly have been retired by now.
She did the things she maybe shouldn’t have done. She made Snape a true good guy (though there’s tacit acknowledgement that he didn’t believe in the cause he was serving when he dies in the original series, so I feel slightly vindicated there). Harry wasn’t acting like Harry. McGonagall allows herself to be bossed around by Harry and Hermione (though they are important now). Everyone confesses the feelings they were holding in from the original series. It was all a bit much.
And let’s talk about the villain: Riddle had a kid. Unfortunately, I clicked on a rogue Buzzfeed post and ruined it. I only read the title, but that unfortunately gave away a key plot point. And because of that, I was looking around. They didn’t hide it all that well, but I was hoping they had and that it was some random kid, not the weird 20-year-old hanging out with 14-year-olds.
And the functionality of how we got here is where I have a problem (well, problems).
- She’s mothered by Bellatrix Lestrange shortly before the Battle of Hogwarts, but we see Bellatrix more than once, and yet no one knew she was pregnant, much less gave birth?
- Next, Rodolfus seems unphased by the fact that his wife has an affair with Voldemort, though I can actually buy this a little more than other aspects. He’ll show up later and tell the child whom she is. Ok, weird, but whatever. (side note, where the hell was he in the book series? He escapes Azkaban and evidently goes on holiday for all we can tell).
- And finally we’re to believe that without formal training she’s more powerful than someone who would become an auror. That was just a bit much for me. I get there’s the whole “Give a nerd enough time and a door he can close and he can figure out pretty much anything” thing (stolen from The Magician’s Land), but I feel like there are limits.
The villain was interesting, but how she became the villain just seemed far-fetched.
And after all that ranting, I liked it. I didn’t love it, but I liked it. I think it will take a couple of more readings to really decide how I feel about it, but there were times when I got caught up in the story and the overall plot. Unlike the books, the specifics weren’t where the punches landed. It was the overall arc of the story. If you’ve gotten this far, you’ve probably already given it a read or a watch, so you have your own thoughts. At the end of the day, some stories are better off as books, so I kind of hope the story is revisited as a novel (or preferably a series), but I realize that’s probably not going to happen.
P.S. Harry names his second middle child after two men he viewed as brave and holds resentment issues toward. And then he has problems seeing eye to eye with said child. Yeah, be careful what you name your kids, folks.