Monday, 31 July 2017

Cursed Child: One Year On.




One year ago, the whole dynamic of Harry Potter - the place where I find so much literary and emotional comfort - changed drastically for me. For a lot of people, this hasn't been the case; but when I cracked open my copy of the rehearsal edition of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts One and Two, I was drowning in a sea of excitment and a tidal wave of fear for what would happen next. While I disagree with this being the "eighth story" as was so poorly marketed, Cursed Child was to me the next step in the story. I was fully satisfied with the original series, and had resigned myself to fanfiction, yet at the same time I always wanted more from this world from J.K. Rowling's head. Cursed Child, being said next step left me in a state of immense uncertainty as I waited for publication. Then, when I finally got my copy at a midnight release party on 31st July, I delved in and haven't looked back since. 

So many people I know, both casually and through work loathe Cursed Child, and I can understand why that would be the case: It bends previous canon in countless ways, there's obliteration of characters that we should have seen e.g., Hugo Granger-Weasley, Teddy Lupin, even Neville, and there's a part of the plot that whether or not you have an alternative theory that's more plausible to back it up, is ridiculously stupid. But to me, someone who in a lot of respects needed to hear what was in Cursed Child, I couldn't have been more elated at the final product. Like anyone, I have my qualms (specifically the Hugo issue), but I will always defend this scriptbook/play with every fibre of my being.

There were two occasions in which I was spoiled on Cursed Child's plot, but predominantly on the major plot twist that turns everything pear-shaped, via a comment on Pottermore's Instagram account. I didn't want to believe what I read was true, because what was said was unreasonable beyond measure, but a part of me did, and I had great concerns that it would ruin my read. Cursed Child was the first time I had ever had the opportunity to have the same experience as every other Harry Potter fan from the 2000s when new books were released, and it was tainted 3 days into the play being in previews. Nevertheless, I am so thankful in hindsight that that wasn't a hindrance to my enjoyment, and although I disagree with the plot point that is established there, everything else that unfolded in the play made up for that rather large hiccup.

It's very strange to think that a year ago (at the time of writing this), I was still shielding myself from everything Potter-related on the Internet, desperate to not be hit by anymore spoilers than I already had by the time of mid-July. Now I have all the answers, most of which were just what I needed, and though I'll always always want more Potter, as it currently stands I'm fairly content. In the years between all the books and films being within easy reach, I was still constantly wanting more - especially about the 19 years in between Flaw in the Plan and Nineteen Years Later. Naturally, the route here was into fan fiction, which I inhaled and then wrote myself too. Fan fiction continues to provide wholly valid possibilties for what happened in those years even if they are fan-written. Whilst I continue to return to fan fiction on a daily basis, I don't feel as much of a need now for it to fill the void that was there for so many years, because for me at least, Cursed Child did that. Of course there are still major, major gaps in the story and I wonder if we'll ever know what happened in those first few years after the Battle of Hogwarts down to the bone, but for now, I'm fairly content with what we have been provided with.

Not everybody likes Cursed Child, and I understand why one wouldn't. The play relies massively on the events of Goblet of Fire rather than carving a wholly new tale. Goblet of Fire is to me the second worst book in the series, but Cursed Child made me appreciate it more. Appreciation seemed to be a running theme that came out of the eighth story for me, and whilst people do loathe Cursed Child, I took so much away from it. There are characters now that I appreciate more than ever. Take Draco Malfoy, for example: I hated him with an intense rage before reading Cursed Child, but now, knowing his bleak future and other sides to his character, I feel so much pain for him, to the point where I've now written several Drastoria fanfics that I could never have done before. 

Furthermore, Cursed Child made me finally understand and respect the relationship between Harry and Ginny. A keen Romione shipper, and having grown up on the films then the books, Harry and Ginny's relationship felt fitting, but never sat right in my eyes. The chemistry that Ron and Hermione have, or Arthur and Molly, or Remus and Tonks or Sirius (Wolfstar all the way) had wasn't apparent... until now. The way Jack Thorne wrote the relationship between Harry and Ginny, presumably under the direction of J.K. Rowling herself made me realise why they are so perfect for each other in a way that I'd never noticed before. It was like the invisibility cloak had been torn away and suddenly all made sense. Now I'd say that I'm a proud shipper; it will never be to the extent of my dear Romione, but I value the bond that they have and am content to read fanficton about it. (If you hadn't gathered already, I read a lot of fanfiction: for the best Hinny, check out My Dear Professor McGonagall.)

But lastly, Cursed Child provided me with a character I could relate to in a way that I'd not even found with Hermione Granger - my fictional doppleganger. Scorpius Malfoy: nerdy, awkward, clumsy, and anxious. When I read Scorpius' character, I see everything that I was as a young student entering high school. It's painful to read at times, but the connection I have with him is comforting. Malfoy felt like the first bold, pure depiction of someone with severe anxiety - which I have dealt with for years, and to have that in words, in the Potter universe, and watch that character not conquere it, but learn to manage it, was so important to me, and continues to be so. I'd like to say that I'm a Hermione Granger: exceptionally high-strung, bushy hair, studious, and rigorous in academic practice. But I also see so much of myself in Scorpius, who in a way is so similar to Hermione. I know others who have felt the same, but Scorpius was everything I never expected and yet needed him to be, and I couldn't be more grateful for that. 

You may not like it. You may loathe it. And that's okay. But for some of us Cursed Child means more than words can purely explain, and I'm so pleased to have had a year of these characters reunited with us once again, for is it ever truly over?

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