Saturday, August 20, 2016

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Somehow I did not quite understand that JK Rowling did not actually write Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but merely "collaborated" with Jack Thorne.  That was disappointing, I'll admit.  Even though the new book/play is touted as "The Eighth Story. Nineteen Years Later" what we have is officially sanctioned fan fiction.  Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Plenty of literary critics love crowing about what a terrible author J.K. Rowling is - she was described as "artless" in a recent New Yorker, for example - I whole-heartedly disagree, I'm quite fond of Rowling's style and storytelling, and I'm a big fan of her work under the nom de plume Robert Gilbraith. While Thorne does an excellent job capturing the voice of beloved characters, I thought his stage direction was absurd ("And with that, time moves ever onwards - ALBUS's eyes become darker, his face grows more sallow. He's still an attractive boy, but he's trying not to admit it."), but then again, I am an utter classicist when it comes to stage direction.  His story is clumsy and way too long (for a play) and I honestly couldn't recommend reading it.  However, there were a few things I found very interesting:

Firstly, I really love that a play is doing this well - the book sold 2 million copies in 2 days, surely the first time that's ever happened for a play.  I love reading plays, but they do take some adjusting to, and I think it's great that children are embracing the medium.  Said my 10 year old friend, "At first I thought it would be really hard, but then I didn't even notice!" and then I said, "Shut your adorable face! No spoilers!"  What I found interesting as a reader was that all kinds of crazy stunts are going on on-stage - spells, people flying, multiple UNDERWATER scenes, all of which you can read on two levels:  1. I'm just reading a book and stuff happens. 2. I'm reading a play and I'm trying to imagine how this will be carried out on stage.

Secondly, plays are meant to be performed, and reading a play is always secondary to watching a play.  This play looks like it would be pretty amazing to see, assuming they pull off half the effects.  Apparently it is selling out in its current West-End production at the Palace Theatre in London, and GET THIS:  You buy a ticket for two shows - Part 1 starts at 2pm and is 2 hrs and 40 mins long.  Then you leave, then you come back for Part II, a 7:30 show, which is 2 hrs and 35 mins long!  I am agog.  I mean, that is some Philip-Glass-marathon asses-in-seats shit there and I did not know the contemporary theater-goer had it in him, much less, presumably: Children?  I'm not sure I have it in me, and I love both theatre and Harry Potter.  BTW, prices are between 30-140 pounds. That's $38-180USD.  Actually, the dollar doing very well against the pound right now thanks to Brexit and worldwide financial collapse so... book your tickets?

No comments: