[Show music begins]
Michael Harle: This is Episode 201 of Alohomora! for September 3, 2016.
[Show music continues]
Michael: Hello again, listeners, and welcome to another episode of Alohomora!, currently MuggleNet.com’s global reread of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I’m Michael Harle.
Kat Miller: I’m Kat Miller.
Alison Siggard: And I’m Alison Siggard. And our guest this week is a familiar voice, and a familiar name for many of you, Steve Vander Ark.
Kat: Thanks for joining us today for this, Part 1, Act 2 of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.
Steve Vander Ark: My pleasure.
Kat: You said you were reading through this today to do some work of your own, yeah?
Steve: Yeah, I’ve read it about eight times, the whole script, so I’m not exactly sure…
Kat: Oh my gosh.
Michael: Oh, bless your heart.
[Kat, Michael, and Steve laugh]
Steve: Come on. It’s been weeks, of course. [laughs]
Michael: Bless your little heart.
Kat: I have read it one and a quarter times.
Steve: Okay. Well, you clearly must not be one of the Lexicon editors…
Steve: … because we have no choice. We are forced to read this stuff.
Kat: We’re sorry.
Steve: No, no, no, no…
Steve: It’s interesting. I’m talking about that. I’ve read it through. When I was reading it through the third and the fourth time… because I read them in rapid succession, and by the third or fourth time, you’ve got the whole thing in your head and you really do start to read it a little differently after a couple of reads. So I think that’s something to be said, really, because a lot of people read it and they have a reaction to it, and they forget the fact that the first time they read Order of the Phoenix they had a similar reaction.
Kat: Oh, you mean my heart leapt out of my chest in love?
Steve: Yeah, well… right.
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Steve: But the first time you read Order of the Phoenix, you went, “Okay, wait a minute. This isn’t Harry Potter. He didn’t act the way he’s supposed to act. This isn’t right. It doesn’t seem right.” And by the tenth read of Order of the Phoenix, it’s your favorite book. Now, I’m not saying Cursed Child is going to be your favorite book.
[Michael laughs sarcastically]
Steve: But what I am saying is that when you read it and reread it and reread it – the way we have read every other book – we have different reactions to it. I don’t think this is ever going to have a place in our heart the way that the original novels did, but there is something to be said for becoming very familiar with it, which is what we’ve all done with the initial novels.
Steve: I don’t know how many times you’ve read those novels, but I’m in the range of 30 to 50. I know them pretty well and I’m very comfortable with them, and I have absolutely no surprises – I don’t think – until I read it again and find surprises. Now, the same happens with Cursed Child, and every time I read it, I find something else. And that’s why, to me, it’s so exciting to talk to people about it because I don’t have very many people around me right now – except my own editors who have read it – to just talk to fresh: “Okay, what did you think?” kind of a thing.
Steve: We’re always talking about editorial stuff…
Alison: I’m so glad you’ve said that because that’s what I’ve been saying since I saw it, and then I read it. And reading it, I saw so many other little things, and reading it again, I keep picking up on little things. I think you’re right; I think a lot of people just went with their initial reaction and they’re not studying some of the nuances of it, which is where a lot of the really great stuff comes out. Because this is a script, you have to dig a little bit deeper.
Alison: I mean, it’s not all laid out in front of you. You have to dig a little bit deeper, [and] you have to read between the lines a little bit more.
Steve: Right, and you have to visualize it. A script is meant to be watched, not read, and so you have to form the play in your head as you read.
Kat: Right. Well, I guess, lucky for Potter fans and our listeners all around the world, we are here to do exactly what Alison just said. We are going to dig it apart and we’re going to dig a little bit deeper. And this week we are going to look at, as I mentioned before, Part 1, Act 2 of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. This is the second of five episodes because we just released a bonus episode with Alison and some of the other MuggleNet and SpeakBeasty hosts all about the production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child itself. So definitely head over to alohomora.mugglenet.com and download that, if you haven’t listened yet. But as Steve said, be sure to reread Act 2 again because you maybe missed something, and you want to enjoy this episode, right? I mean, as much you can, anyway.
Alison: [laughs] Oh no, I feel like I’m going to be working the uphill battle again.
Michael: [laughs] I don’t think we have to put the same disclaimer on our episode that one would have to put on Cursed Child itself. I think the episode will be just straightforward enjoyable. [laughs] Whatever your opinion is, hopefully.
Steve: Well, think about this: Did you enjoy “Potter Puppet Pals”?
Michael: [laughs] Yes.
Steve: Of course you did because you didn’t expect it to be something it wasn’t. Well, in a similar way – don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying it’s on that level – this is not the same. You shouldn’t come into it expecting Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Kat: Right. Wait, Steve, hold that thought…
Kat: … because we’re going to get to overall impressions in a minute.
Alison: Oh no!
Michael: He’s going straight for the throat, right?
Steve: I tell you.
Kat: I know, and I feel like you have some strong thoughts on this.
Steve: I’m off-script already, am I?
Kat: No, no, no, it’s good. I’m excited to hear it.
Alison: But we just want to remind you all, before we get to hear all these great things and really get into these conversations, that this episode is sponsored by Lauren DeBueriis – and I really apologize if I got your name wrong – on Patreon. You, too, can sponsor us, just like Lauren, for as little as $1 a month, and we continue to release little tidbits on our Patreon site for our sponsors that are exclusive and really cool and really awesome. So thank you, Lauren!
Kat: Yay, thank you.
Michael and Steve: Thank you, Lauren.
Alison: Obligatory… not obligatory. They just happen every time.
Michael: If you’re on the main site, leave us a comment and tell us how to pronounce your very beautiful last name.
Kat: Yes, please.
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Kat: Okay. Steve, now I think you should run with it because Alison was the only one who was on our first episode. So I want to give you, as well as Michael and myself, a chance to tell our listeners what we initially thought of Cursed Child the first time we read it through. So go. You’re on.
Steve: First time I read it through? Oh, wow.
Kat: If you even remember.
Michael: Yeah, right, he’s left that behind so long ago.
[Michael and Steve laugh]
Steve: Yeah, it’s been weeks. No, the first time I read it through, I thought, “Oh brother, this is going to be a problem.”
Steve: And because number one: I’ve been a theater director for 35 years. I’m used to reading scripts and seeing the play in my head. But I’m also very much aware of the fact that many people are not used to reading scripts, and so I thought, “Okay, fans are going to have problems with this because it’s going to feel wrong.” But then I also just thought, “Okay.” And we’ve heard that there’s a fan fiction-y feel to it… the fact that it takes place when it does and it’s Albus and Scorpius and a little bit of that kind of thing, but not as much as you might think. I think my biggest thing was that I felt a little bit like they just took every Harry Potter reference they could think of and threw it in there. So they had to have this person and that person, had to mention this, had to mention that, and it was a little feeling of that for me. I don’t even notice anymore. By the fifth time through, I’m paying no attention to that anymore. I’m just going, “And things,” because there was that little surprise: ”Oh, there’s Snape. Yeah, knew that he’d turn up.” That kind of thing.
Steve: Whereas my sense is, now that I know the whole story, I’m just looking at how things develop. But my first time through, I had that little bit of a shock. But I have to say, it’s not unlike the way that if you come into it expecting to have a certain thing, you expect it to be a Harry Potter book. You expect it to be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows or something like that. It’s so completely not that. The point is different. The point of this is to do a good show on stage.
Steve: And that is why I think Rowling kept saying, “This can only be a stage production,” because that’s its point: to make you watch it and go, “Wow! How did they do that?” That’s really what it’s about; [that’s] what it’s for. It’s supposed to be an astonishing stage production; it’s not supposed to be a Harry Potter novel. And so as long as you understand that, then you can enjoy it for what it is. But the minute you get your dander up and think, “Well, you know, it feels like fan fiction here…” It’s not supposed to be a read thing; it’s supposed to be a watched thing. If you were watching it, you wouldn’t even notice that because you would be thinking it was so cool.
Kat: Oh, you hit the nail on the head with that one. Very good. I agree. For me, I guess… I’ve said this all along – and I can’t remember if we’ve actually ever discussed this on the show – but for me, I wholeheartedly, even from the beginning when they first announced it as “the eighth story, 19 years later,” I completely rejected it as an eighth story because Harry’s story is done. I know Jo has recently said that Harry’s story is done, but if you all remember, she said that years ago as well. And so Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is not focused on Harry Potter, therefore for me it is not “the eighth story, 19 years later.” It is another story about the same characters, in the same world, written by people who don’t really know those characters. Anyway, as far as my initial reactions when I first read it, I enjoyed it. I thought it was clever. I laughed a lot more than I expected to, and I went in with exactly the attitude that Steve was talking about. I knew it wasn’t going to be a Harry Potter novel. I have been in theater my whole life, so I am very familiar with reading scripts and I was able to visualize a lot of it – probably not even remotely close to how it looks on stage – but in my head, it’s pretty beautiful, so it’s okay.
Kat: But I also, like I said, am able to reject it as “the eighth story,” and I think that makes a big difference. For me, as far as not completely hating it, I can understand where people are coming from in that respect. I don’t agree with that, but that’s it for me, I guess. I enjoyed it, I thought it was clever and fun, but wholeheartedly and completely not “the eighth story.” Done. They should have changed the title because Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is dumb. But anyway…
Alison: It should definitely be Albus Potter…
Kat: It should be something totally different than Harry Potter and the [blank] because the story is, like, 5% about Harry. But anyway, Michael, you’re up.
Michael: [laughs] This is a fan fiction-y piece of crap, in my opinion.
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Steve: Tell us how you really feel.
Michael: [laughs] And I don’t mean that to knock fan fiction, actually, because there’s a lot better fan fiction out there than this, in my honest opinion. I’m very interested… The funny thing is, I’ve actually been gearing up to see what Rosie says…
Alison: Oh, I’m so excited.
Michael: … because Rosie definitely… I’ve been steeped in fan fiction, obviously, as one of the hosts for AudioFictions for all those years. And actually, I was hoping to mention on the last episode but I wasn’t there, but we surpassed AudioFictions‘ episode count. Well, we surpassed it with this episode, actually, because AudioFictions stopped at 200.
Kat: Yay! And sad.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Michael: We lined up in that way. That was kind of nice. Yeah, I’ve been steeped in fan fiction for a long time. I’ve seen it all. And so Rosie, who was so involved with MuggleNet fan fiction to such an extensive degree, I think has a pretty good sense of every fan fiction trope. And she will be seeing the play; that is why, listeners, she hasn’t been on these episodes yet.
Alison: She actually just saw it.
Kat: Like three days ago, right?
Alison and Michael: Yes.
Alison: And according to her reactions on Twitter – she and I were talking on Twitter – she loved it. So I was very excited. [laughs]
Michael: Well, I’m interested to see how she breaks it down…
Alison: That’s true.
Michael: … because there’s still… Saying you loved it doesn’t necessarily mean you liked everything about it. So I’m interested to see that because… Even not looking at it as Harry Potter, [but] just as a story, it’s very typical. There’s not much new here as far as storytelling goes. And I consider myself one of those people who, no matter how hyped up I am about a thing, can still see the faults in the thing if it’s really not to my liking. I would love to see Cursed Child on stage, just like you guys are saying it’s meant to be seen, and I could even tell that by reading it. But I still think if I [were] sitting in that audience, I would have some big problems with it. There were just not any surprises for me. It has moments that feel like Harry Potter, the original novels, but I feel like those were the points where Rowling was like, “Oh, do that.” [laughs] And then the rest of the time, probably… A good thing I’ve seen that sums it up is there was a Tumblr post where it has Rowling saying to Jack Thorne, “So you enjoy my work, do you?” [laughs] And Jack Thorne is saying, “Yes, yes I do.” [laughs] And in the asterisk it has him stuffing ten Goblet of Fire fan fics into his bag…
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Michael: And that’s about right. [Those are] my feelings on it. I’ve been ranting and raving about it to all my friends, and a lot of them have already been put off from wanting to read it. And I do say you should read it at least once, but after I reread the first seven, I will definitely not make it a priority to read Cursed Child after them before starting a reread again.
Kat: Yeah. I think personally, for me, once we’re done with these four episodes, it’ll probably sit on my shelf and be a very pretty dust collector.
Michael: Yeah. It’s got a spot on the Harry Potter shelf, but I will not be reading it as much as the other ones.
Alison: So it’s an uphill battle for me today again.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: I don’t know. I think it sounds like… Steve, you’re pretty amicable about it…
Steve: Oh, sure.
Michael: Yeah. No, you’re not completely alone, Alison.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: And I didn’t hate it, Alison. I just reject it as anything official and perfect and beautiful, that’s all. [laughs] I just totally and completely reject it.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: I didn’t hate it. I just never want to see it again. [laughs]
Kat: Yeah. So I suppose we should jump into the discussion for this week on Part 1, Act 2. And so Al, why don’t you refresh the listeners as to where Part 1, Act 1 ended?
Alison: So the last scene we have is Delphi, Scorpius, and Albus hav[ing] broken into the Ministry…
Kat: Oh, wait. I have beef with all you guys, first off, about last week…
Kat: Delphi. [pronounces “Delph-eye”]
Alison: No, no, no, it’s Delphi. [pronounces “Delph-ee”] It’s Delphi.
Kat: Then they’re pronouncing it very wrong because…
Alison: No, they’re doing it on purpose. I’m pretty sure they are.
Kat: What do you mean, “on purpose”?
Alison: Because Delphi [pronounces “Delph-eye”] sounds really stupid for a girl’s name and it’s way too obvious. Because what’s her full name? Delphini. So it’s Delphi. [pronounces “Delph-ee”] It’s a nickname. And it looks like Delphi; [pronounces “Delph-eye”] it’s one of Rowling’s clever little…
Kat: It’s an Ancient Greek god, which totally fits with all of the naming of the family of Black.
Alison: No, I know, but there’s a twist on it because she’s never exactly what she seems to be. Because the Delphi [pronounces “Delph-eye”] was the Ancient Greek spirit that…
Steve: [The] oracle.
Alison: Yeah, the oracle that gave the prophecies. And she had this prophecy but it’s twisted – it’s not right – and she’s trying to twist everything.
Kat: So they say Delphi [pronounces “Delph-ee”] on stage?
Alison: Delphi. [pronounces “Delph-ee”] Yes, it’s Delphi.
Kat: That is the stupidest effing thing I’ve ever heard in my life. Sorry.
Steve: No, but that’s good. I need to know that; that’s going on the Lexicon.
Kat: Okay. Well, sorry, then…
Kat: But also, I already did yell at Eric for saying Amos [pronounces “Ah-muss”] the whole time.
Alison: Oh my gosh. It’s okay. I wanted to too. [laughs]
Kat: So everybody can calm down about that.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Alison: I never got the chance, but I wanted to! [laughs]
Kat: Yeah, okay.
Steve: For saying what?
Kat: “Ah-muss” instead of “Amos.”
Steve: Oh my goodness…
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Alison: I was like, “No, Eric, no!”
Steve: I didn’t even know what you were saying! [laughs]
Kat: And I asked him, “Eric, you’ve seen the movies, right?” He’s like, “Yes, I’ve seen the movies.” So anyway… sorry, Al. Go ahead.
Alison: It’s okay.
Kat: Refresh us, please.
Alison: So the last scene we get is Scorpius, Albus, and Delphi in the Ministry, having just conquered Hermione’s weaponized bookcase – which is awesome – and gotten their hands on this dangerous Time-Turner. And now they are off to go save Cedric Diggory – which is their little mission – and lots of stuff is about to happen.
Kat: Fabulous. So the first scene that’s right here – and I really don’t want to run through this scene-by-scene-by-scene because I think that there’s more interesting things to talk about than digesting it in the way that it was written – is a flashback scene. It is Harry in his little room under the stairs, and it’s Petunia waking him up to go do the dishes. I have to open my book because I don’t have this thing memorized. I can’t run [it] off the top of my head like I can with Harry Potter… I don’t like it. But of course, like most of the other flashback scenes, the wording is different, which I don’t necessarily think is a bad thing, actually; I think it’s very intentional. Some people have been saying it’s because they want to make sure that the readers know that this play isn’t canon – and we’ll have a whole other discussion on that later – but I think it’s because, in this instance, Harry is dreaming.
Steve: He is remembering a shortened version of things.
Kat: Yeah, exactly.
Alison: Or several versions of things.
Steve: And this incident isn’t actually even from the book, so…
Alison: Yeah, that was one of the things I think I mentioned last time. The first dream really threw me off because it was wrong. [laughs] But once you figure out it’s a dream, it makes a lot more sense because it’s going off of… Okay, you can see Harry’s mind is going different places. He’s dreaming of these scenes, but they’re colliding with these other things he’s thinking of, these new perspectives he’s gotten, and they’re creating these dreams.
Kat: So then the question that really bugged me this time is: Why is this here? How does this help Harry in any way, shape, or form figure out that Albus is in the Forbidden Forest? I don’t understand. I mean, I am legitimately asking here because I don’t understand. I don’t know why this scene is here. I don’t get it. It makes no sense to me.
Alison: I think it just helps us realize how much Harry is hurting and how confused Harry is at this moment because this dream very much speaks to the idea we talked about before when we were reading through the books of, “Okay, was Harry abused? How much was Harry abused?” And that pain [and] that fear probably ran throughout Harry’s young life, and Harry is feeling that similar pain and fear again because his son has gone missing. He has no idea where [Al] is, he keeps having these dreams where he keeps hearing Voldemort’s voice, he’s not quite sure what’s going on, and it’s almost like a stress dream that just comes out. And then that turns into other stressful times in his life – a.k.a. times in the Forbidden Forest – which I think triggers some thought in his head, which brings us to what happens in the second part of this dream.
Steve: Which is the stage contorting and trees rising and all that stuff?
Alison: Not quite like that, but… yes. [laughs]
Steve: Well, I’m just reading stage directions here – I haven’t seen it – so basically, I’m with you, Kat. I wasn’t sure either why all of a sudden he can say at the end of the next scene, “I think I know where he is.” Really, how did you get that?
Kat: Yeah, I don’t see the parallels; I don’t get the jump.
Steve: Was it more obvious in the actual [scene] onstage? Could you tell it better?
Alison: I think so.
Alison: I mean, it is a strange jump, but it’s a dream. And I think to me that makes sense, that in dreams you jump weirdly from time and place, and it’s just wherever your mind and your [sub]conscious is taking you. So it makes sense, in a way.
Steve: When Albus appears he’s wearing these…
Kat and Steve: The Durmstrang robes.
Steve: Right? We don’t know that they’re Durmstrang robes yet because we haven’t… Have we seen Durmstrang robes?
Alison: Not in the show.
Kat: I don’t think so.
Steve: No, because they haven’t gone back in time yet, so we didn’t even know those were Durmstrang robes until…
Alison: Which brings the interesting thought that Michael and I actually talked about when some of you listeners… if you’ve seen us on Twitter… and our four-hour conversation we had that there seems to be this thread of somehow there’s a piece of Voldemort that’s still almost communicating with Harry, and so that’s where some of these things are coming from. And that’s one of those things that I think, “Okay, we should have cut things like the Trolley Witch, and we should have put a little bit more solid ideas in there for things like that to make that a little bit more clear,” but…
Kat: Doesn’t it seem a little bit…? I mean, if we’re getting a mention here of Durmstrang robes, isn’t Harry prophesizing a little bit in his dreams if this hasn’t happened yet and Harry is seeing this?
Alison: Well, it would depend because if there’s that connection to Voldemort, and that connection to Voldemort is Delphi, then she already has this plan. She’s already planning this.
Michael: Yeah, but the play never specifies at any point at the end that the connection is between Harry and Delphi.
Michael: It’s implied. But also, there’s no reason for it. Unless there had been a definitive stating that Delphi, by being Voldemort’s daughter, does that…
Kat: If she is Voldemort’s daughter. Let’s put an asterisk in there.
Michael: If we’re going by that theory. And by the play’s explanation, she is. We have no alternative to it. And so if she is, there’s no explanation of, “Oh, does that mean that she maintains that connection with Harry?” There’s not a Horcrux in her because he’s not alive, so what is that connection from? And why hasn’t Harry ever felt it before if she’s been alive for, oh, around 20 years?
Kat: And how is that even a thing? Because the only reason there was a connection before was because of the Horcrux.
Alison: And that’s what I’m saying. It’s something that they need to cut out – something stupid like the Trolley Witch – and put in this information. [laughs]
Michael: Which is disappointing because I actually… The dreams are one of the things that I like, not…
Steve: I liked the Trolley Witch, but go on.
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Steve: I’m sad about the Trolley Witch. I think she’s awesome.
Michael: Don’t worry. You can go listen to Episode 200. There’s a lot of Trolley Witch there. [Michael laughs]
Steve: Oh, okay.
Alison: Not by me.
Kat: I have different feelings about the Trolley Witch, for the record.
Steve: Anyway, go on. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt.
Michael: Oh no, no, not at all. I was just thinking that the dreams fit with the general imagery… not necessarily the writing, but the imagery of the dreams, from Harry Potter, in that they’re very surreal and they’re definitely symbolic of something. And the thing I like about the dreams is that they don’t explain themselves like the rest of the play does so blatantly. There’s a little bit of room for interpretation about what’s going on with them, and especially when you get into the slow realization [in] the play where you go, “Oh, these are kind of Harry’s memories.” But after the final one, Harry is like, “That one wasn’t right. That never happened.”
Steve: Something just occurred to me, though. In the novels, especially at the beginning before the Horcrux and Voldemort connection came in, repeatedly Harry has prophetic dreams. I’d forgotten about this. The whole connection to Voldemort thing took over, and I forgot that he was having these kinds of dreams before there was any Horcrux stuff going on with him. I would almost be willing to say that we’ve seen evidence for several books there, especially at the beginning of the series, that he has a Seer’s ability with dreams.
Kat: Do you have an example?
Steve: Well, remember, he dreamed about… Oh, I’d have to pull it up. We have an essay on the Lexicon called “Harry’s Dreams.” But he has dreams about Snape and about Draco, and these are dreams which come to him. One of them he says he never remembered it afterward, which is one of those…
Alison: Is that the first one? It’s in Sorcerer’s Stone, isn’t it?
Michael: Ahh, it’s at Christmas time.
Alison: It’s, like, his first dream at school.
Steve: But it’s especially… yes. And the thing is that that’s one of those rare times when Rowling writes that. If he never remembers it afterward, we shouldn’t know because we’re only seeing through the imperfect narrator of Harry’s actual experiences. And if he does not remember it, we should not hear about it, in a sense. But we do because every once in a while, she slips out of that. She’ll talk about the people in the stands watching Quidditch. Well, we should never do that because we’re seeing this all through Harry’s eyes, and he’s not in the stands. But the point is that we have seen evidence in canon of him having prophetic dreams where things do this, where he sees images come together, and he doesn’t interpret them very well because he doesn’t understand them. Seems to me he’s starting to catch on at this point, apparently, when he’s 40 years old…
Steve: … about what some of these can mean. But he had those kinds of dreams before the whole Horcrux thing took over, and every time he would dream it would just be Voldemort.
Alison: That’s true.
Steve: So that’s interesting. I had forgotten all about that.
Kat: Right, I have the benefit of the doubt. But I still don’t understand how he figures out where Albus is because of that dream. I still don’t get it.
Michael: He figures it out because he’s in the woods by the end of the dream, right? He’s in a warped version of the Forbidden Forest.
Steve: Oh, so it’s the forest and Albus that gives him a clue. Yeah, not the robes.
Steve: Oh, sure. Okay. Well done. Now that makes sense.
Alison: And that’s why I think part of it could be a stressful thing, [because] he’s thinking of… dang it, I can’t say that. There’s a production bit that comes in that I think… yeah.
Steve: Does it answer this?
Alison: Just a little bit.
Alison: Yep. [laughs]
Steve: Well, maybe we have to just leave that for when we’ve seen it or when you’re free to talk.
Alison: I will say it’s one of the creepiest moments in the whole play, though. I had chills all over myself because…
Kat: Well, is it not right here in the stage directions?
Alison: Which I’m very, very, actually surprised about.
Steve: Well, this is just the rehearsal edition script. I’m looking forward to the real script.
Kat: And also, I suppose, something I didn’t mention before that I want listeners to remember is that this script is probably… Okay, so this is a rehearsal script; that’s true. However, the actors probably did not learn lines off a script that looked exactly like this. This has probably been novelized a little bit, okay?
Alison: It definitely has been.
Kat: Some of the stage directions affected… It says, “And the stage contorts and trees rise as the dream twists into something else entirely.” The actors probably… That’s not a stage direction; they most likely wouldn’t see that on their script. So remember when you’re reading this that this has probably been adapted for “novelization” a little bit. Something to keep in mind when you’re reading through.
Steve: Yeah, that does make sense.
Kat: Yeah, because otherwise… if you’ve ever read a real script, it doesn’t read like this does. And I mean, this reads like a script, but it also, like I said, reads like it has been – what’s the word? – I guess “novelized” a little bit, so…
Steve: Edited-for-Jo version.
Kat: Yeah, there you go.
Alison: I was just going to say, it’s more… They’re describing more of the things in more words…
Kat: … that you would be seeing.
Alison: Exactly. [With] some of the things, I definitely am like, “Who wrote that? Because that is not how that came off.” [laughs] But there [are] a few things that are… Yeah, that’s all I’m going to say on that.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Michael: Did you guys mention, [laughs] before I was cut off, the continuity stuff within this dream itself that brings it into question already?
Kat: About how it’s not the same?
Michael: Well, because this isn’t the most extreme dream that Harry has, as far as warping of reality. It seems actually not far off from what could’ve been a possible moment we didn’t see, but Harry mentions that he had a dream about hearing ”Avada Kedavra” and his mom screaming, and he definitely doesn’t hear Lily scream ever until Prisoner. So he made that clear.
Kat: You know what’s funny? I read a really interesting theory today – which I don’t think we’ve ever talked about or discussed – that when Harry was dreaming about his parents being killed, he was actually remembering Voldemort’s experience and not his own. Isn’t that interesting?
Alison: Yeah, I think that’s right in a lot of ways because… I think that’s almost confirmed in Deathly Hallows, isn’t it? When he sees…
Kat: I don’t think so much in the dreams.
Michael: Would that be possible, though? Because Harry didn’t have that connection with Voldemort until after his parents were dead, so…
Kat: Right, but I mean, he has a part of Voldemort’s soul, so…
Michael: Oh. I guess, yeah, he would have Voldemort’s memories after that. Yeah, that’s true.
Kat: If the soul houses the memories, which I suppose [is] another discussion entirely.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Michael: Well, like Alison said, when Voldemort recalls those memories like he does in Hallows, Harry can relive it because Harry relives the night that Voldemort is on his way to Godric’s Hollow, and he’s walking through Godric’s Hollow. So yeah, I guess ostensibly he could do that.
Steve: And I would just read this as purely a dream and not necessarily a recreation of an actual event. [He’s just] putting ideas [and] things together. He’s connecting what he knows happened, what he thought could have happened, what Aunt Petunia would have thought about this… I don’t think it’s necessarily ever intended to be an exact transcription of something that happened in his childhood, so I wouldn’t worry too much about what he knew and what he didn’t know. That’s just the way I would look at that.
Michael: And that’s why I liked the dreams, because they’re, again, one of the few elements in the play for me that somewhat succeeds because it doesn’t just flat-out tell you what it’s doing; it kind of creeps up on you. Because by the last dream, I liked that Harry later will wake up and say, “That’s not right,” because I wasn’t really sure what they were toying with with these dreams. A little disappointed that it’s basically just to get Harry from point A to point B because there wasn’t another way to do it…
Kat: Oh, they’re totally a plot device, yeah.
Michael and Steve: Yeah.
Steve: Totally just so they can put the cupboard under the stairs into the play, just so they can put Aunt Petunia into the play, just so they can get Dudley into the play… It’s the only reason they did that. No, no, that sounds very… I don’t know any of that much, so…
Kat: I mean, like, 50%. It’s okay. It’s okay.
Alison: But plot devices don’t have to be bad.
Alison: Let’s be honest.
Kat: No, you’re right.
Steve: No, it’s true.
Alison: Thestrals are mostly there so that they can get to the Ministry.
Kat: That’s entirely true. Entirely true.
Alison: They’ve taken on deeper meaning.
Steve: That’s true. Okay.
Alison: And these dreams take on deeper meaning and they help add some layers and some complications to Harry and how Harry is dealing with everything, which helps us, I think, understand Harry and Albus’s relationship.
Kat: Let’s move into that, then. So we’re in the first AU here. Harry wakes up and he says, “Oh, I know where Albus is. He’s in the Forbidden Forest, of course. I mean, that dream helped me totally figure it out, so it’s fine.” So they go find McGonagall and they go into the Forbidden Forest to go and find them, and in the meantime Delphi…
Kat: I’m sorry; that is just the stupidest pronunciation ever. I’m sorry. Go ahead, Michael.
Michael: I was just going to say this isn’t the first AU yet, is it?
Alison and Steve: No.
Steve: I don’t believe so.
Michael: Because they haven’t actually been back.
Alison: This is them in the Forest. Yeah.
Kat: Right, yeah, we’re getting there.
Kat: Right, exactly.
Michael: I just want to keep my timeline straight. [laughs] So that’s all.
Kat: Right. Side note: There wasn’t anything in the Forest here that I wanted to talk about, so if you guys have something, then go for it.
Alison: I have lots of thoughts on Delphi that came up in this scene, actually. I think this is the scene that really starts to show even more in-depth… I mean, we get a little bit of it on a second reading of the first scene she shows up in, but this really shows how much of a master manipulator she is in the way she talks to Albus and the things she says to him specifically. She is getting great at finding exactly what he wants to hear. She’s figured out that he’s a bit insecure, that he… What’s the word I’m looking for?
Steve: He’s needy.
Alison: In a way, yeah. And so she decides to trick him and manipulate him by bolstering his confidence by being this older woman who seems to be interested in him and is going to teach him how to be better. And even just the things she says about him; she’s tailoring it specifically to him. And she’s very much leaving Scorpius out at this point because she’s trying to get Albus on her side, which I think is fascinating. And I think one of the things that makes Delphi such a fascinating character is how manipulative she is, but it’s so crafty and it’s so subtle that you don’t even notice it until you look deeper at what she’s saying, and you’re like, “Wait a second,” and you know what her goal is because she doesn’t count on them being any more than sheep in her little plan. She thinks of them as stupid 14-year-old boys that are just going to go along with her, and she’s just going to take their motivation, twist it to what she wants it to be, and get there, which is why I think she’s so upset when they say, “Delphi, you don’t have to come. We’re going to just do this ourselves,” because she wants to be there. She wants to be there to control the whole situation and to jump right in and to get back into the timeline because if she can get back to where Voldemort is, especially at this point, she might be able to change things. If she can get back before Voldemort comes back to the graveyard, she can go bring him back but stop him from doing anything with Harry.
Kat: Right. I suppose my real big question about her in this part is why she, ultimately, didn’t want to stay behind, and then why she ultimately decided to stay behind, and what was she trying to change, or why did she need to be there at the first task? What could have happened? Or what could have changed in that moment that…? Do you know what I’m saying? Why did she choose that moment? Why did it have to be that moment?
Alison: I think she could’ve snuck away.
Michael: I was shocked that she actually gave up so quickly about going with them because honestly, that was the biggest role of the dice. Her plan is awful. She sucks at planning.
Alison: [skeptically] Hmm…
Michael: But this particular point in her plan where she just relents to two 14-year-olds to go freaking change time, and expect that they’ll do it in a way that doesn’t completely erase her from time, is a really, really big gamble.
Alison: I think she’s completely overconfident; [that’s] actually the thing. I think she thinks that she would’ve been born no matter what, and so she doesn’t want to stay behind, but I think she has contingency plans coming out her ears. I mean, I think she has every way… And there was no way she could’ve gone with them and convinced them to let her go with them without being suspicious, and the last thing she wants to do is tip them off in any way because I think she’s already gotten, by this point, that they’re both smart. She doesn’t think they’re as smart as they actually are, but she’s afraid that what happens later – when Scorpius catches on to how weird she’s acting – is going to happen now. And so there’s no way for her to convince them to take her with them at this point without doing that.
Steve: Let me ask a quick question – and I’m sorry, but I know you’ve seen it and so I need to – because I read this section multiple times just by itself, trying to figure out if she… How does this play? That she really does want to go and then gives up? Or that she’s playing them the whole way and saying, “Oh, okay”?
Michael: That’s what I was wondering.
Steve: I can’t tell from the script which way it’s supposed to be.
Alison: It’s a little bit of both. It’s like she’s trying and trying, and she wants to go and she’s trying to convince them, but finally she decides she has to…
Steve: So she does really want to go?
Alison: But finally she decides she has to cut the loss and start taking them off on a different side road so she can get back to where she wants to go.
Steve: Okay. All right. Thank you, because I couldn’t tell from the script how to read that. I could’ve seen it either way, so okay.
Alison: And another thing I noticed is when she’s talking about… There’s a line where she says, “They’ll never let anything damage damage students at Hogwarts.”
Kat: “They won’t let damage happen to any of the champions.”
Steve: That’s a lie.
Michael: [laughs] Yeah.
Alison: The word “damage” stood out to me. Yeah, I laughed. I was like, [laughs] “[Do] you know what happened here?”
Kat: Clearly, you know nothing.
Michael: She didn’t go to Hogwarts. She didn’t know. [laughs]
Steve: Look it up in the Lexicon.
Alison: It’s the word “damage” instead of the word “hurt.” She doesn’t say they won’t let anything hurt them; she says “damage” like they’re not people. And it gives you a very interesting look on her view of people. Other people aren’t people. They’re pawns to be used in what she’s doing. They’re not human.
Michael: See, I guess Delphi, to me, would almost be interesting for me… and you guys talked about this last week, how her personality capitalizes on Tonks to mislead us and then she pulls a Quirrell at the end, in my opinion. So she’s a combination of those two characters to me, which is why, I guess, she’s uninteresting to me. Plus, master manipulator… I guess my standards for master manipulators come from Disney movies. I’m thinking Frollo, Scar, Mother Gothel…
[Alison and Steve laugh]
Michael: And she doesn’t live up to those for me. She doesn’t really… Definitely, like you said, Alison, it naturally comes through a little more on a second read, and who knows what it feels like when you’re sitting there, potentially having spent lots of money to go see the play twice?
Michael: So I don’t know if that feels more satisfying to see it twice in that way? It’s not terribly much more satisfying… I guess it’s like you’re saying with rereads. This one isn’t really wowing me with the revelations of what was hidden about Delphi like things do in the Harry Potter series when I reread them because to me, the other thing is that – and I’ve heard this a lot from friends that I’ve discussed this with who read it – Delphi was not a surprise to them. And she wasn’t really a surprise to me either because she’s the only unknown who pops into the whole play with any substance, so she’s bound to be the bad guy.
Steve: And I guess maybe I’m just sort of lame, but I think I don’t anticipate enough. I don’t look forward enough. I just live in the moment. I didn’t ever think about that. I don’t want to say it was a huge surprise, but I didn’t think she was evil. I just thought she was a little strange. But that’s just me; I let things creep up on me too easily.
Michael: Oh yeah! And I’ve definitely read the same perspective from others who have said that they didn’t see Delphi coming. I don’t pride myself…
Steve: But you say it and I go, “Oh yeah! Well, yeah. I guess that’s true. I should have thought of that.”
Michael: Harry Potter has spoiled us in a lot of ways with what we’ve come to expect from narratives.
Steve: Yeah, we expect the rats to turn into wizards.
Michael: Yes, yes! Exactly. You’re looking for the most minute details.
Alison: I think that’s the nice thing about her, though, in a lot of ways. I said this last week, but the moment she came on stage, I was thinking, “I shouldn’t trust her, but I have no reason not to trust her at that point.” And even at this point I don’t think, on a first-time seeing or reading, you have reason not to trust her at this point. But for some reason I couldn’t. And I think that’s where the shock and surprise came [from]. It’s like, “Okay, am I doing that thing where I’m like, ‘Oh, she’s new, so obviously she shouldn’t be trusted,’ or is there really something about this that’s making her seem untrustworthy?” And I think that’s where the shock comes from. It was true! I was right all along! And here’s what she was doing… and that’s what I like about it.
Michael: All right. Well, good. We can take her or we can leave her. That’s all we know about Delphi.
Steve: I would say she had me fooled at this point. That’s all I’m saying.
Michael: When your standard from this series [is] individuals like Bellatrix, Umbridge, and Voldemort, Delphi just doesn’t really come close for me. That’s all.
Steve: Right. Yeah, she’s a poor replacement.
Michael: And oddly enough, even Quirrell, just because… I don’t know. She kind of repeats Quirrell. He did it first, and he had a turban while he did it, so…
Michael: He had Voldemort on the back of his head!
Alison: I have more thoughts about how she fits into it all, but I’ll save those for her big reveal later because they…
Michael: Yeah, one of our listeners actually figured out what your thoughts on her were.
Steve: Okay, okay.
Alison: [laughs] Oh, yeah, my big theory on Delphi.
Michael: We won’t say which one, though.
Alison: But anyway…
Kat: There are some good ones floating about.
Steve: I will agree with what you said earlier, Michael, that she’s not very good at making plans. I mean, this is a really lame plan.
Michael: A really bad plan. [laughs]
Steve: It really is! We’re just going to cast one Expelliarmus and we’re going to hope that there’s going to be this chain of events from that one thing. This guy is a Triwizard Champion. If somebody Expelliarmuses his wand, he will have other options in his mind!
Steve: It’s not like that one thing… Okay, never mind. It’s a play.
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Michael: I do wonder if she did meet Albus and Scorpius, and once she got a register that Albus, especially, has no magical ability whatsoever, she was just like, “Oh…”
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Steve: “Look what I have to work with.”
Alison: I think that’s definitely a factor.
Michael: “Prophecy didn’t fill me in on that one!”
Kat: So let’s pretend for a minute that she did go back with them. What was she going to do?
Steve: Just make sure they didn’t screw up.
Alison: I think she was going to go sneak off. I think she was going to go find Barty Crouch, Jr. and make him tell her where Voldemort was, and she was going to go take over that whole plan for herself. I think that’s what she wanted to do.
Michael: It would have been interesting, too, what would have happened with that because if she had sneaked off, yeah, she would have been left behind.
Alison: Yeah! But they don’t know that right now. They have no idea.
Michael: No, yeah, exactly. And she doesn’t know that, so who knows how that would have affected…?
Alison: And I don’t think she would have cared if she got left.
Michael: No, probably not.
Steve: No, no.
Alison: I think that’s what she wants. She wants to change…
Steve: But would she have been…? I think she would have been sucked back after five minutes just like they were, even if she did try to sneak off.
Michael: They clarify in the script that Scorpius and Albus touch before they go back, and Scorpius does it in a panic because he’s worried that something’s going wrong anyway. So I got the implication from that that they had to be touching to go back or they’d be left…
Alison: And the way it’s shown on stage, they have to be in close proximity.
Michael: Well, right? Because at the end of the story they do get left and stuck in time, right? Or no, they don’t get stuck in the past; they get stuck in the alternate future. So never mind.
Alison and Steve: No, they get stuck in the past.
Michael: They do get stuck in the past! And they…
Steve: Godric’s Hollow.
Michael: Yep. Okay. I don’t even know. Too many timelines. Whee!
Kat: Yay! Everybody’s in the forest looking for them as the three of them are concocting this terrible plan, or whatever…
Michael: And who should show up but a character that you’d be like, “What? Who cares about you?”
Alison: [laughs] Can I say this is one of my favorite lines, though?
Kat: Yeah, they were like, “Did you have one line in the other books? What? Why are you here?” First off, why isn’t it Firenze? I mean, I understand why it’s not. But if we go by Steve’s theory that they’re just recalling everything – which I totally think is completely valid, just for the record – it really shouldn’t be Bane. But it’s okay.
Alison: I think it makes sense.
Steve: And Harry should have been smart enough not to trust anything Bane says. Harry is not supposed to be an idiot. He’s an Auror. He’s Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. He’s not supposed to be stupid.
Steve: And to totally flip out and do the completely insane thing just because of something Bane says?
Steve: Harry should have the good sense to go, [sarcastically] “Oh, Bane, yeah, yeah, I’m sure that’s true. Okay, yeah, all right then. Just back up.”
Steve: “Talk to you later.”
Alison: Can we talk about Bane’s line, though? Talk about Harry being stupid? Bane saying that Albus is as stupid as Harry is because literally it made me laugh so hard! Because I was just like, “Uh-huh. That is dead on!”
Steve: Yeah, that’s true.
Kat: It is true.
Alison: That is exactly what Harry would have done at age 14, and that is exactly what his kid is doing.
Michael: Like Steve is saying, that’s another moment of why I guess I’m a little disappointed by Harry’s characterization. Because we discussed this so extensively between Order and Hallows in our reread, that Harry does learn how to step back from being impetuous and just taking the first move that comes into his head. He’s no chess player like Ron, but one of the biggest moments in Deathly Hallows is that after Dobby’s death – as we discussed – he sees the world in a new light, and realizes that he can’t just keep acting that way or he and others will face the consequences. And so like you said, Steve, how odd that he would take the word of Bane, who he never liked as law? [laughs] Why on earth?
Alison: I think it’s because it’s how worried he is about Albus.
Michael: Yeah, that’s the only justification I can think for it.
Alison: I don’t think we see that with Harry, though. Harry is more apt to act rash[ly] if he thinks someone he loves and cares about is in danger, and he thinks Albus is in danger, and this is his child that he loves, obviously, even if he is having issues with him at the moment. And so he hears that one of his children is in danger, and especially with everything else weird that is going on, I think Harry’s automatic is just, “Go, go, go. Do whatever it takes.” I mean, it’s Sirius. It’s Sirius all over again. He himself doesn’t stop to think about checking. Harry wouldn’t have checked.
Steve: It’s his saving people thing.
Steve: Yeah, okay, I can buy that.
Kat: But that shouldn’t be a thing anymore.
Michael: I can buy it from the justification that he’s worried about his kid, and that’s the only thing that justifies it for me. But I do think it’s a shame that he doesn’t really… I think where it comes to a point where it’s like, “Wow, Harry has completely lost it,” is that he’s not listening to the sensible discussion from his peers that are trying to help him.
Steve: Of course. That’s vintage Harry.
Alison: But I think he catches on again. I think he remembers that later, once Albus is out of danger. Once they’ve figured out what’s going on, he remembers that again and he goes, “Okay, I need to slow down. I need to think about this a little bit more. I need to act a little bit more rationally and not go just on my emotion.”
Steve: Yeah. And I think that we are somewhat seeing the return of the impetuous Harry, the Harry who had to have a lesson in making a determined decision, which is what happened, like you say, after Dobby’s death. I think some of that’s taken back in because, like you say, this is his son. All of a sudden, the stakes are different. He reverts to that. And you’ve got to remember that part of the reason Harry is the way he is all through the novels is the fact that he was raised in a household where the rule was, “Don’t say anything. Be silent. Go to your room. Pretend you don’t exist.” He does not naturally go to people and discuss things. He was raised for ten-and-three-quarters years to not say anything. He doesn’t talk to adults; he doesn’t trust them. He’s been taught not to say anything, and he didn’t get over that very quickly, and so he spent many years not talking to Dumbledore. I mean, some of the most obvious things… He himself realizes it when he realizes that Dumbledore is gone, and he’s going, “Why did I never ask him about Godric’s Hollow? Why did I never ask him about this? Why did I never ask him about that?” He spent a good chunk of his formative years learning not to talk to people, and that’s what we see come out in the books. And now I think you’re right; I think we’re seeing it again. When the emotional cost is so high [and] when the danger is so high at an emotional gut level, he reverts back to that person who doesn’t talk to people and just reacts on instinct, and he ends up on top of the school behind the chimney or changing his teacher’s white wig blue? I mean, he’s just doing it all internally.
Michael: I guess that’s just not… and that’s, yet again, another problem I have with Cursed Child and how it directly follows up Hallows. But the way I read the epilogue in Hallows versus the way I read the epilogue in Cursed Child is different, and the epilogue, to me, in Hallows just implies a lot of things about Harry’s growth within those 19 years that – like you’re saying, Steve – I’m seeing are an issue here, but that in my personal read of Hallows at the end, I don’t see. Or I see have been remedied to a point in his character. But I guess, as you guys talked about last week, that’s the benefit of the epilogue here not reading at all the same, because then you can say, “Well, there is an issue with canon here because there’s different dialogue going on. Next scene!”
Steve: I think we came to a natural stopping point there.
Kat: So then we go back. So now we are in the first AU. Of course, right before that, Scorpius and Albus have this cute little heart-to-heart discussion about why Hogwarts does or doesn’t suck, and all that.
Alison: Can we talk about Scorpius expecting to be disappointed, though, all the time? That just breaks me, the fact that he talks about how he read the Daily Prophet every day when he was ten expecting something to have happened to Hogwarts because he wanted to go there so bad. That just hurts.
Kat: I mean, that’s Harry.
Michael: Are we opening up the Scorpius door?
Alison: I love him.
Michael: [laughs] Because I…
Steve: Well, I think about that poor kid. If he would not have met Albus on the Hogwarts Express on that first day, what would have happened to him? This poor, desperate child who wanted so badly to have friends. Thank goodness they ran into each other, is all I have to say. I guess thank goodness Harry ran into Ron too.
Alison: Yeah, I think Draco makes a good point about that later where he’s talking about, “You had friends, and that made things so much easier for you when you had to make decisions.” And I think it’s the same thing with Scorpius. I think he would have struggled with the same things that Draco struggled with, had he not met Albus.
Steve: Sure, and that’s why Draco reacts so strongly to, “Here’s what you did. You came and separated the two boys. My son needs your son. Let’s go fix it.” Because he really knows how much he needs him.
Michael: Oh, Scorpius.
Steve: Slight jump ahead, there. Sorry. I love Scorpius. Oh, what a great character.
Alison: Oh, I love him.
Michael: I don’t like Scorpius as a character. I think he’s very sweet, and if I met him in real life I’d probably give him a big hug and tell him everything’s all right. But as a piece of writing in the Harry Potter universe, he drives me a little crazy.
Kat: [laughs] I’m with you on that one, Michael.
Michael: How do you feel about him, Kat? Because I might go on a little bit of a rant, so how do you feel? Because I’m interested to hear a different perspective.
Kat: Like I said, I’ve only read the book one and a quarter times.
Kat: So I’m still formulating my entire opinion on him. I do think that he’s a beautiful little nerd, but I don’t understand all of the praise and awesomeness for Scorpius.
Alison: I think you need to see him.
Kat: Yeah, but there [are] hundreds of thousands and millions of people who haven’t seen him…
Michael: … who love him.
Kat: … and who have this perfect little cinnamon bun thing about him, which I don’t quite understand.
Michael: So Ludo Bagman…
Alison: Oh yeah, we’ve got to talk about Bagman because it’s brilliant. It’s great, guys.
Michael: He’s there.
Kat: But he’s terrible.
Alison: No, it’s so much funnier when it’s actually said. This is one where I was reading it and I was like, “Oh, these are really cheesy written down,” but I was rolling in the theater because it was so funny. It was so book-description of Bagman, and it was great. Oh man. It was an absolute gem.
Michael: I did laugh every time at the running bit with the French. That was pretty funny.
Alison: Yeah, the typical British dig at the French was hilarious.
Michael: [laughs] They still haven’t let up on them.
Kat: And that, I think, is an instance – I believe you guys brought this up a little bit on the first episode – where some of the things that are put in here are pointedly aimed at a theater audience. And something like that dig at the French – and then also you guys talked about the staying off the sweets – is wholeheartedly and completely aimed at the snobby, upper class, rude people who would be seeing this show in London. That is very much aimed at the theater crowd.
Steve: Are you including Alison in that snobby group you just described? Because wow, okay…
Kat: No! No, the type of people who would laugh at that joke…
Michael: No, I was glad you brought up that point, Kat, because one of our MuggleNet staffers, Claire, discussed that when we were all talking about the show. I take Claire’s word on that as extra valuable since she is actually British, and she basically said something similar. She felt that those kinds of moments and lines were targeted at working-to-middle class audiences who don’t have familiarity with Harry Potter, but would find a joke like that funny because that’s a joke that pretty much anybody can get. That’s not a Harry Potter-specific joke.
Kat: Sure, yeah. That was my point behind that, yeah, that it was generic.
Michael: I think it’s funnier when you have read Harry Potter, and how put-upon Beauxbatons is, and how badly they lose compared to everybody else in the Tournament. It’s funny. That makes it a little funnier for me. But yeah, I think that’s definitely one of those [moments], like you said, where it’s like, “Yeah, this is supposed to just apply to the everyday audience goer.”
Kat: To the mom who’s there with a kid [and] doesn’t care about Harry Potter at all. Right.
Michael: Fun lines, though. I mean, they’re silly, but they go.
Alison: There are definitely ones where I was like, “Yeah, these are ones that need to be heard, and they need to be performed more than just read.”
Michael: I really did like the specific choice that the actress who plays Rose plays [young] Hermione.
Kat: Yeah, that’s nice.
Alison: Yes! It was really good.
Michael: That was a very good choice. I just like that idea, especially because the poor actress who plays Rose has nothing to do. [laughs] So it’s nice that she gets a moment there.
Kat and Steve: I know.
Kat: And they’ve made her such a big deal. She’s featured on everything, and she’s in, I don’t know, four scenes throughout the whole thing. It’s sad.
Steve: Part of the thing I have… and I guess we can’t talk about this…
Steve: … but every time one of these happens, I’m just desperate to try to imagine what we’re seeing, which is nothing. You don’t see a dragon. You don’t see this.
Steve: I know. I want you to be able to tell me. I suppose you can’t. But I just really am wondering: How in the world do they make these things exciting?
Kat: Do we see Charlie?
Alison: No, sadly. I wish. I don’t remember him, at least. It could very possibly be that he’s there and I just didn’t see him. I mean, I was way far in the back.
Steve: Do we see dragons?
Alison: No. You hear dragons.
Michael: See, I feel like this is one of the few… That’s what I thought. I might be wrong. Alison, you can confirm this because we will have all seen this. I think there’s a screen-grabbed moment of this scene that was made public of everybody just holding Hogwarts banners and staring off into the distance and pointing, and it’s a crowd. And that, I realized afterward, was probably this moment.
Alison: Yes. Here’s the thing, though: It’s still very exciting. And a lot of it comes from the showmanship of Bagman, and these lines. I mean, the ensemble is doing a great job of reacting to everything. And so it’s still a very exciting moment.
Steve: Well, that’s good to hear because it wasn’t exciting to read.
[Michael and Kat laugh]
Alison: It’s one of these nice ones that really almost makes the audience become a part of the show because they’re facing the audience, and they’re also facing the task. And so as an audience member, you’re almost like, “Oh, they’re looking around here. They’re looking at us! We’re a part of this story. We’re a part of what’s happening right now.” And so you can almost feel and imagine yourself as part of this crowd in the stadium. And it’s really awesome [laughs] when you’re sitting there and you just get caught up in the excitement of the whole moment, and of the fact that you’ve become a part of the show in some way.
Steve: It reminds me of the joust scene in Camelot.
Kat: Sure, yeah.
Michael: Ooh. Well, and that’s just it. I think Alison just hit on it in her description of why this truly is, as Steve mentioned earlier, the way Rowling said it is, where you have to see it as a play. And listeners, if you haven’t experienced much theater, I really hope you do get the opportunity. I remember, Alison, when you and I talked about it, as you previously mentioned, for four hours…
Michael: … I brought up when I first saw The Lion King, and how my dad and I walked out of that actually saying that it was a spiritual experience. And we thought that surely it had been built up in our heads, and it wasn’t going to be as good as everybody said, and it really was for us. And I do think that there’s just something borderline indescribable about what your stomach does and what your brain does and what your heart is feeling and how your heart pumps as you’re watching theater that even the best-written scripts can’t convey.
Steve: Sure. I think that’s very, very true. I’ve directed enough shows to know that. I had somebody direct a show that I directed about ten years before, and she came to me. And she had been in the show herself, and so she decided to do that same show. And she did the show – it was a children’s show of Aladdin – and she came to me laughing, and she said, “Okay, where is all the stuff that we did? It’s not here, and I remember all this great stuff we did. And I think all the lines are there…” because we don’t add lines. She said, “It was just so much. Where was all that?” And I said, “Well, that’s what we added, the action [and] the chases. All that stuff is not in the script.” But when you take that script, it’s this framework, and as a director you take that and you build the story out of it.
Steve: And you can’t add lines. They don’t let you add lines. But there’s so much that happens, even just in whether you put a pause in a line. But it’s so much more than that. In that example, we had people swinging on ropes across the stage. None of that’s in the script.
Kat: Right. It’s all about the blocking and the staging.
Steve: It says that the guards chase Aladdin. Well, if all you ever saw was the guards [chasing] Aladdin, you wouldn’t think that was a very exciting scene. That was one of those scenes she remembered and thought was so exciting, and she realized that that was never in the script.
Alison: A script is only the bare bones of what an actual show is. And that’s the thing.
Steve: Yeah. And I think we have some of that with Cursed Child too. Even though they did, as you say, novelize it a little bit, there’s got to be just so much more going on. This scene is a good example of exactly that because I read it and went, “Okay. That is good.” And as a director, I’m thinking, “Okay, well, I guess if I got a hold of this, I’d have to do this, and this, and this,” which is exactly what they did.
Kat: So since we’re on the topic of Ludo Bagman, there was one line that made me smile a little bit. It felt slightly like a Jo nod. And I know there was another one in the first act, where they mentioned the bird tattoos on the backs of the trolls. That’s the only moment that has felt like Jo, to me, this entire script reading, until I got to this moment where Ludo, after the boys do the Expelliarmus, says, “Oh no, what’s this? Is it Dark magic? Or is it something else entirely?” I don’t know. Just the Dark magic nod to Delphi. I’m going to assume that it is. It just made me smile a little bit, and it was the second moment where I felt Jo in this play at all, where I generally don’t feel her at all. That was the second moment where I felt her.
Alison: That’s so interesting because I see her fingerprints all over it. I see so many of her themes. I see so many of her ideas that she likes to play with all throughout it. So I’m interested…
Steve: But I think the keyword [is] what you just said: You “see” because you saw it.
Alison: Well, yeah.
Steve: And so for us, we’re just reading these words. And to me, when I think of what makes the Harry Potter novels magical, [it’s] really her writing.
Alison: Yeah, that’s true.
Steve: And her writing’s not in there. Her descriptions and her visual… The thing of Harry and Ron having a sword fight with fake wands at the back of a classroom, and McGonagall catches them and then there’s this extremely visual moment where there’s a freeze and then the head falls off the haddock. She writes in a way [that] is this visual, great, humorous way of writing, and that’s not in there because that part of the writing isn’t there. It’s just the talking, and so you’ve seen it because you saw the play and her hands were all in that play.
Alison: That’s true. That’s very true.
Steve: So maybe that’s a good excuse [for] why we consider it somewhat to be canon.
Kat: [makes buzzer sound] We’re going to have another episode about the canon discussion.
Steve: Bam, bam, bam, okay.
Steve: Yeah, I saw the red light started flashing. Okay, go ahead.
Michael: It’s funny, though, Kat, [that] you said that because I think that’s a great way to read that Dark magic line, because for me, it’s silly because I’m like, “No, that’s not Dark magic. That’s Expelliarmus, Ludo Bagman. That’s not Dark magic at all. That’s a very simple disarming spell.”
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Alison: But when has Ludo Bagman been that bright?
Michael: I don’t know. Expelliarmus is seemingly pretty common in the Harry Potter world. That just seems a little much to jump to, [as Ludo Bagman] “Oh! It’s Dark magic!” [back to normal voice] Everybody just loves to scream “Dark magic” in the Harry Potter series.
Kat: Yes, they do. Okay, so the Expelliarmus thing happens and Cedric loses his wand, blah, blah, blah, whatever. They go back to the “current,” so now we’re technically in another alternate universe. However, we are in the current time, “2020,” okay. But Albus’s arm is broken. Why?
Michael: Yeah, what happened?
Steve: It’s like it was broken 20 years ago or something like this, remember?
Michael: Yeah, which is fun, but why?
Alison: I think it has to do with the Time-Turner not being perfect, and I think it has to do with… Doesn’t it say Scorpius grabs him? And Albus is like, “Wait, no, we’ve got to…” And [Scorpius] is like, “No, let’s go! We [have] to go!” I think it has to do with that, and I think it has to do with this imperfect Time-Turner. It’s almost like being Splinched, but not.
Steve: Exactly, yeah.
Michael: But this doesn’t happen again, right?
Steve: Yeah, it does.
Michael: Does it? Who does it happen to? What happens?
Alison: They come back shaky when they get back to the actual timeline when everything gets put back to where it is. They come back sick, I think, and they’re in bed for a day or something.
Michael: Oh, see, I guess I forget these things because the time passes so fast. It’s just left as explanation rather than being shown. So maybe that’s why. There [are] more issues with that later, but yeah.
Kat: But if that’s the explanation, then why is it only Albus and not Scorpius?
Alison: I think it’s because Scorpius is pulling on his arm.
Kat: But no, Scorpius is not strong enough to break Albus’s arm regardless of whether the Time-Turner is imperfect or not.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Steve: Well, I think the idea is that he’s pulling on it and applying force and then the Time-Turner just applies a lot more force or something.
Michael: Maybe it’s also because Albus is pulling away because he’s trying to stay because he doesn’t know what’s going on. So maybe there’s the combination of pulling from the two of them that makes that happen. I’m stretching here, guys. I’m really looking here.
Alison: [laughs] No, that makes sense to me, actually.
Kat: No, you would have to be. Do you know how much force it takes to break somebody’s bones?
Alison: But this is magic! [laughs]
Michael: Well, then you factor in time, and…
Kat: Yes, there is magic, Alison, but they are physical people. They’re not magical…
Alison: But it’s like Apparition. It’s like Portkeys.
Steve: It’s like being Splinched. I think that’s a good explanation. It’s like being Splinched. I’m surprised that didn’t come up.
Michael: We’ll go with Scorpius pulling Albus pulling Scorpius pulling… and then the pull of time. Right?
Steve: Ooh. I like that.
Michael: Because time wounds, but time heals all wounds.
Alison: Time is very much a character in this show, actually, so…
Michael: Oh yeah, time is definitely a character in this show.
Steve: I love that. “Time heals all wounds.” Oh, I need to add that to the notes for that.
Michael: “Time wounds, but it also heals all the wounds.” It’s all good.
Steve: Time heals all wounds, though. [laughs]
Kat: Oh God.
Michael: They’ll be fine because… Yeah, then ostensibly, we’ve jumped a few days again, right?
Steve: Yeah, because now we get to see Dumbledore because…
Alison: Well, even Dumbledore says his name is stupid. Come on, Harry. [laughs] Everyone thinks this.
Michael: [as Dumbledore] “What were you thinking?” [back to normal voice] See, I guess that’s another thing that just irks me about Cursed Child. Everything that has been generally complained about or whined about in the fandom or has come up as an issue post-Hallows is addressed here. It’s like, “Oh, that was a stupid name that you gave your child.” “Well, guess what? The characters are aware of that and they’re going to comment on it.” And there [are] more instances of that that will come, and funnily enough, Dumbledore appearing is one that a lot of people didn’t like. And actually, I like it, and I like it because it is one of the few things that uses the rules of the world to actually contribute to the character-building because Dumbledore, without explicitly saying it, by explaining that he is a portrait… and Dumbledore vomits the explanation from Pottermore about how portraits work, which is lovely.
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Michael: It’s another one of those moments. But without Dumbledore explicitly saying it, by saying how portraits work, he is talking to Harry about how Harry already has within him what he needs to do, but he just needs to figure it out. But he can’t flat out say it because as a portrait, he’s limited to what he can do.
Steve: Just paint and memory.
Michael: Yes. And I don’t know why; I think that’s the only reason the sentimentality of that doesn’t bug me in the same way that, say, Snape does when he shows up. And perhaps I am biased because I am much more on Dumbledore’s side than Snape’s. But I just feel that the magic of this moment that’s used with the portrait, to me, again feels similar to Rowling. The magic’s there to help you learn a real life lesson but it can’t give you everything. It can just push you in the right direction.
Steve: Well, I think you [have] the same Dumbledore you had in life. Never tells you really anything, never gives you a straight answer, [and] never shares everything. The minute he starts getting close to telling him anything actually useful, he says, “Ahh, I’m just paint and memory, just paint and memory.” [He says], ”See you,” the minute he’s getting to actually giving him any advice. His best advice could probably have been, “Bane? You listened to Bane?”
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Michael: I guess Dumbledore specifically taught his portrait to not really much care for the centaurs.
Steve: But anyway, we have this nice little scene, eating chocolate, of course, because [you’ve] got to have chocolate in there.
Kat: Everybody loves chocolate.
Alison: Yeah. I’ve just got to say, these are some of the best scenes between Albus and Harry. Sam Clemmett and Jamie Parker deserve way more props for the nuance in their performance. They’re amazing. Love them both.
Michael: There must be a lot of it because it’s not in the writing.
Steve: No, but I can imagine it.
Michael: Yeah, there’s room for it.
Alison: They just embody the characters so well. That’s the biggest thing. They just embody them so well.
Steve: I’d really like to see this play.
Michael: One of our listeners left a comment last week, and I apologize, listener, for not… You guys, at the time of this episode, you hit 100 comments, so I apologize for not being able to remember. And I read them all, so I can’t quite remember who said it. But one of our listeners did say that one of the problems for them – and I do believe [it] is one of the problems for me with this relationship between Albus and Harry – is that while, sure, we might buy this, that Albus has become against his father because he was expected to be his father… which could go down. I feel like that could be a whole episode just because there’s stuff that gets into, “Well, what about James and Lily?” and, “Why would people expect that of Albus when Harry really wasn’t that great of a student?”
Alison: [whispers] Because he looks like him.
Michael: I think the other issue is that unlike [in] any of the Harry Potter novels, time has gone so fast that we get, what, two or three moments of Albus and Harry before the ish really hits the fan? And there [are] quite a few years in between where you’re like, “So what are the family dinners like here? And is Albus just seething with rage at Harry all the time and not talking to him and leaning on Ginny? Is Teddy detecting any of this awkwardness when he comes over for dinner? What’s going on? What’s going on?”
Kat: Right, the relationship is poorly established. You understand that there’s no communication there but that’s really the only level that you get. You get some hostility.
Alison: I will admit the beginning is way too fast. It just goes way too quick. You’re left going, “Wait, hold on. I’m trying to set everything in my mind still so that I know where we are when all of this starts happening.”
Kat: Right. But I think my favorite part of this first [alternate] universe… well, second, really, AU by this point. One and a half, we’ll just say.
Kat: When they get back to real time, either way, teacher Hermione – Professor Hermione – is, for me, the new Snape.
Alison: Oh! No!
Michael: I actually don’t like that.
Kat: Oh no?
Alison: No, Snape is a horrible human being. I don’t think Hermione…
Kat: And so is Hermione! Did you read this?
Alison: No, I think she’s just bitter. Snape is not just bitter. Snape is terrible.
Kat: Snape is also very bitter. Everything that Hermione says in these couple of pages was alarm bells: “Snape, Snape, Snape, Snape, Snape.” Everything about it. The way she treats the kids, the way that she talks to them, the way that she looks down on them… everything about that is Snape. Everything.
Steve: Yeah, I had a real Snape vibe out of that, too, myself. But I think you’re right, Alison. Snape as a character – because we know him so much better than our brief introduction to this mean Hermione – has a real child abuser thing going on, whereas Hermione here… all we see is her being stern in her classroom. She’s like McGonagall, in a way.
Alison: She’s your stereotypical bitter British spinster teacher. Does that make sense?
Steve: But think about McGonagall! Think about the way McGonagall took 50 points away from Harry for what, being out of bed? She was the same way. She could be a real battle axe.
Kat: Oh, that is not the word I thought you were going to use there.
Steve: I understand. But I’ve been hearing you all dance around other words, so I think I’m trying to make sure that I don’t say words that…
Michael: We try. We often fail. But we try.
Steve: Okay. [laughs]
Michael: But that’s what makes me feel so icky about this Hermione, and not just this Hermione, but Hermione and Ron because throughout… Okay, so my thing with Hermione and Ron, and since they come up in this alternate timeline quite a bit… I feel that this is another one of those moments where it’s like, “Remember this thing that happened in the fandom? Well, guess what? We’re going to talk about it! Remember how J.K. Rowling was misquoted in an article about her feelings on Ron and Hermione and everybody took it seriously and nobody actually read the full article? Well, we’re going to make sure that you guys all are very invested in Hermione and Ron’s relationship and that they totally are meant to be a couple by showing what happened if they weren’t a couple.” And the super big consequence of that is the implication that, “Well, [Hermione] didn’t get together with Ron so she’s become a horrible, bitter spinster, and that’s totally reasonable because Hermione had nothing else to define herself other than Ron.” That’s upsetting to me.
Alison: My hand’s raised because I actually have a thought on that.
Alison: I think it’s more [that] it’s showing us the trio broke up, and so Hermione didn’t reach where she would have gone had they all stayed together because I think the trio would have broken up a little bit more because Ginny and Harry obviously got married. Ron is now family. Harry and Ron are now family. There’s almost no other way for Harry to go. And I’m sure he’s still friendly to Hermione, but I feel like it’s showing us, okay, because they made those bonds closer, Hermione got left out in the cold a little bit more. And so they started distancing.
Steve: Yeah, I think you’re right. And remember that the Harry we see in this scene just before that is not the Harry that we know either. So this also…
Alison: No, it’s Harry who’s let everything go to his head.
Steve: Right, this Harry who talks to McGonagall in ways which are completely… People have been shocked by that, but remember, this is the alternate reality. This is not the real Harry and that’s not the real Hermione. And again, this is a play, which means in that brief second, we’ve got to be able to gather this whole scene. Just like in the first movie: You remember that they compressed 12 days of letters into looking out the window and seeing a whole bunch of owls out in the yard. That’s what you do in a movie in order to compress time but give you that impression, give you the feeling, [and] give you the understanding. This is the same thing. We have two quick scenes to get this sense of “This is what has happened to the world.” Harry is not the Harry we want to see. Hermione is not the Hermione we want to see. We don’t get an entire chapter of subtle character development. We get 12 lines.
Michael: Oh, that is, of course, the necessity of a play, but I still don’t think that makes that okay with this particular instance.
Kat: I agree.
Michael: And I would, Alison, buy that it’s the idea that the trio broke up, but there’s just this aggressiveness in how the script is just like, “Look at Ron and Hermione! They have nothing to do in this play, so let’s remember how much they love each other. And we’re going to use that as their storyline for every timeline that they are in because they don’t have anything else to do.”
Alison: But I love it. I think it really speaks to themes of friendship and “You go further when you have friends,” and then it gets into family and love and how love and family [help] bring you to be more than you can be by yourself. And I think that’s lovely.
Michael: Which I would’ve really bought if there were more of that interaction like in that first scene that, Alison, you mentioned in Episode 200, that I really liked where Harry, Ron, and Hermione are in the office together talking and it feels like one of the more natural scenes that would fit in Harry Potter. And I guess I just don’t feel that, especially because there is this issue, as Kat mentioned at the beginning of the show: This is called Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but this isn’t Harry’s story, necessarily. And the play has to balance Harry and Albus, and even in two two-act plays it’s still working with such an expansive world that character build-up and arcs still get truncated to basics.
Alison: And that’s the problem. It’s such an expansive world and they have to narrow it down into a story that’s going to work, which is why – I think we talked about this last time – they had to cut some characters. There are characters mentioned and ideas thrown in because we’re remembering we’re in this world, but they’re not there because you have to have a narrow enough story and a narrow enough focus to tell a story.
Steve: Which is also the reason why, for example, Scorpius – and Albus, but mostly Scorpius – [seems] to know an awful lot about what happened 20 years ago at the Triwizard Tournament.
Michael: Yes! Oh my God.
Steve: I mean, right down to tiny details of who so-and-so took to a ball. And it’s a little bit like obviously we’re handing them this information because we’ve got to get the plot moving.
Kat: I still don’t buy that Hermione would have just given up on life because she doesn’t talk to Ron and Harry as much anymore, which is what this Hermione has done. She has given up on her life. She’s a bitter, angry person.
Steve: I think that would be one way to read the lines, but I don’t think it’d be the only way to read the lines. I can imagine McGonagall saying these things.
Kat: Sure, I suppose.
Steve: If I would hear it in her voice, with [a] little sarcasm, I wouldn’t feel that way at all. I would think that she was a perfectly fine person.
Michael: Again, maybe not fair with seeing the play versus reading it, but the explanation for this behavior from Hermione comes from Scorpius as being what happened at the Yule Ball. And that’s all we have to take for that.
Steve: And why? Because everything that happens in this script is centered around that particular event in the Harry Potter series. And so they have to find something from that event… I mean, this is not Prisoner of Azkaban with its incredibly well-crafted plot.
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Steve: This is very much shorthand. We’ve got to get through this, we’ve got to have reasons for everything, and we want to make sure we include all of this stuff. And rather than cut out half the stuff and make it a really good plot, we’d rather leave all the stuff in. And I don’t mean that as as bad of a criticism as it sounded because I think that the stuff is part of what makes us fans want to see the play.
Michael: Well, and you briefly touched on this at the beginning, Steve, of the conversation, but the stuff is another thing that irks me because… and this goes to my criticism of the Trolley Witch but it extends to other elements of the play, including these constant callbacks to “Remember when this happened?” or “Do you remember this information that you may have only read on Pottermore?” And that’s a very classic technique in fan fiction to legitimize your fan fiction [and] to make your fan fiction feel even more so that it fits… There are many genres of fan fiction and a lot of people happily write AUs – alternate universes, the term we’ve been using – and don’t bother or want to conform to the rules of the world, and that’s okay, but there are a lot of Harry Potter fan fics that do try their hardest to do that and they do exactly what Cursed Child does, which is, “Let’s drop in information,” like, “Let’s have the Trolley Witch mention Ottaline Gambol twice even though she is not important at all, but it legitimizes this further because you read Pottermore,” and if you were one of those audience members who read Pottermore, you’d be like, “Good job, play, you did your homework.” And we’ll even get to it, I think, in this alternate timeline when Albus is like, “I stole James’s Invisibility Cloak; his trunk combo is so easy.” And it’s like, “Yeah, because James had the Invisibility Cloak, which we learned about,” and all that, yada, yada. There [are] just little things here and there that are sprinkled in to just legitimize, I guess, but they don’t necessarily…
Alison: James gets the Cloak in this play. That’s explicitly stated.
Michael: Yeah, but I guess what I’m saying… That was a bad example. I was thinking about the map, which doesn’t matter because we’re in an alternate timeline. But you know what I mean, though. We’re sprinkling in information, not necessarily to move the plot forward, but just to say, “Hey, we covered this,” or, “We mentioned this, therefore it’s canon, or it’s closer to canon.”
Kat: Ooh, yeah, don’t use that word. You’re going to make me throw up in my mouth. Sorry.
Michael: [laughs] Sorry, Steve. That’s the war you’re having right now, I assume.
Steve: Oh yeah.
Michael: Oh my God. So… McGonagall.
Michael: She’s bummed out, huh?
Alison: It’s one of the saddest scenes, though. Can we talk about these really sad scenes – they’re so sad – of Scorpius and Albus not being able to talk to each other?
Michael: Yeah, this play is sad. This play makes you feel pretty sad.
Michael: There’s definitely… No, no, no, I actually don’t mean that as a fan. I mean that, legitimately, there’s a lot of heaviness to this play.
Alison: There is. And I will just say, the scene that is just description in the script – because there’s no dialogue – is one of the saddest scenes in the whole play. It’s so beautifully done that I was almost crying, and I don’t cry at things like this very easily, but this was the first time I started tearing up. And then later in the play I started bawling my eyes out, but that’s another story.
Kat: That’s because that’s the birth of the ship. That moment is the birth of the ship. [That’s] what that is.
Alison: Okay, I have an unpopular opinion that I really, really, really need to talk about, though, about shipping them because…
Michael: Oh, are we boarding the ship? Is that what we’re…?
Kat: I don’t know. Do we have time to board the ship? Because we haven’t gotten through the second…
Alison: We do.
Steve: We may have to come back. We’re halfway through this act. We may have to come back and finish this up another time.
Michael: We should have split these acts up. [laughs]
Alison: I’m just going to say, I think having them not be a couple is actually a more… I don’t want to say “important”; that’s not the word I’m looking for. I’m going to get up on my little feminist soapbox for a minute. It tackles a societal issue that I think no one’s talking about, which is even more important than doing the thing that I think would be even more fan fiction-y, which would be to make them be a gay couple.
Kat: To make them a couple, right. No, I don’t disagree with that at all.
Alison: Because I think it’s tackling [the] toxic masculinity [idea] of “Two males cannot be friends [and] cannot love each other without it being romantic or sexual,” and I think that’s important, especially in fandom, because I think that’s usually the assumption when we can… We should be looking at, yes, males can have these kinds of relationships and not have to have it be romantic or sexual. And that’s nothing against gay couples at all. I definitely think we need more representation, but I think we need both representations, if that makes sense? And so I think that’s why this is nice that we’re getting this one here. But that’s me.
Michael: And I think that’s a valid point, Alison. I actually think there is definitely legitimacy to that. And it’s hard for me, especially as a gay man, to say with this because I agree. If they shipped them, that would be signed, sealed, stamped, “This is fan fiction.”
Michael: Because this hit every trope. [laughs] It completed the fan fiction trope.
Steve: Well, maybe they avoided that trope on purpose just to say, “See, it’s not fan fiction.”
Michael: “It’s totally not fan fiction!” Yeah. But at the same time I guess Harry Potter, the series itself, didn’t really shy away from – and we talked about this in the reread – unconventional male characters, male characters who weren’t machismo and in control of their emotions to the point [that] they never show them. There are male characters who run the gamut in the original Harry Potter series. And I guess we know Dumbledore is gay now, and we have that, and there are still people in the fandom who have taken that as a “Take it or leave it” because it’s not mentioned in the books. But I guess at the same time… And again, having discussed this with people, the staircase scene has become infamous in the fandom already because, for God’s sakes, they’re heartbroken. They’re looking at each other with such… I totally can see it being played just as friends, sure – and maybe it is colored by all the years of fan fiction – but I guess also, at the same time, you could argue, “Yeah, let’s see an unconventional male relationship of two softie guys who are just really good friends but are kind of intimate with each other.” Also, we haven’t officially seen a gay couple in Harry Potter, and now would have been a great time to do it, to finish that off in that way, [and] to finally do what Rowling couldn’t, in my opinion, do in 2007. [It] could be done now and nobody would bat an eye. It’d just be a nice thing, and the script really does… Oh man, if the gay community as a whole were more into Harry Potter – which quite a few of them are, but if we could make this a big thing in the gay community – they’d be so into Scorpius and Albus. This would become camp fodder for the gay community because it seems so obvious, I think, to a lot of people I have talked to who have read the script. It just killed me, and I thought that’s where the play was going.
Steve: It felt a little bit like a cheap shot, like, “Okay, clearly you were heading that way, and now you back off at the last minute? Seriously? Then why did you go that way?” [laughs] Go with it. If you’re going to go with it, go with it.
Alison: And it’s one of those things that I wonder… because actually, when everyone got the script, I was almost surprised at how many people were thinking that because on stage it doesn’t come off like that at all. And I think some of it is the way the stage directions are written, and so I wonder if maybe I was just not seeing it, [laughs] or if that’s one of those stage versus page issues.
Kat: Well, for sure. There’s a line here that says,
[romantic music begins]
“His abject loneliness [was] clear. The staircases meet. The two boys look at each other. Lost and hopeful – all at once.”
[romantic music ends]
I mean, come on! That’s a romantic…
[Alison and Steve laugh]
Michael: Somebody, put music under that.
Kat: Exactly! That’s a romantic moment, even if they’re not gay…
Kat: … and even if they’re not in a relationship that is romantic. That is a romantic moment, no matter what.
Steve: How many 14-year-old boys who are friends are going to act that way?
Kat: Zero! Look at the way that Ron and Harry reacted to each other when they weren’t talking. Granted, they were fighting, but they wouldn’t even look at each other.
Steve: That seemed more of a traditional male way…
Steve: … a heterosexual, if you will, way of dealing with those feelings. This doesn’t seem that way. But again, this is all in the stage directions, so…
Michael: Well, even in small ways in the… And I think sometimes for the fandom, it’s colored by the movies, but I think actually Harry and Ron are a bit more sentimental and intimate in their relationship with each other than they are in the movies because the movies go to great lengths to be like, “Yeah, they’re boys.”
Kat: For sure, yeah.
Steve: Very true.
Michael: And the books don’t shy away from that as much because actually, Harry and Ron’s tiff is very similar to a couple’s in a lot of ways.
Kat: It is. Yeah, you’re right.
Steve: And it lasts a lot longer in the books than it does in the movie.
Michael: Yes. And Harry and Ron have been known to actually flat-out hug each other when they see each other. The movies make sure they don’t. So there [are] little things like that. I guess, too, the reason that – speaking from my personal experience as a gay man – it would have been okay for me to have these two characters be gay is because when it’s done in fan fiction, it’s done with a lot of fetishizing of what people… because a lot of people who write fan fiction, and who write gay fan fiction, aren’t gay, [and] sometimes they don’t even know gay people. They just are writing, “Well, this is what I would hope a gay relationship would be like,” or, “This is what I think a gay relationship would be like,” or, “This is what I want a gay relationship to be like.” Whereas here, it’s just developed so naturally in the script. And the whole thing isn’t based on, “Well, they’re so gay. Look how gay they are.” It’s not looking for the gay stereotypes about these two; it’s just naturally building a relationship between them. Very naturally. They’re just bonding with each other because they’re talking about things that are meaningful to each other that they don’t share with other people, and that’s a great foundation for a relationship.
Steve: Absolutely. And I think that [is] because they fill a need in each other’s lives so clearly.
Michael: Yes, oh my God. They complete each other, you guys!
Alison: But I think that’s possible with friendship, too, and that’s why… I mean, it can go either way, and that’s fine.
Michael: Oh yeah. But also, Alison is in love with both of them and she’s going to marry them. [laughs]
Alison: I am! [laughs] Even if they’re shorter than me, I’m going to marry them both. It’s fine.
Michael: Well, we have a Time-Turner; maybe you can work that out somehow…
Alison: [laughs] Okay.
Kat: Yeah, work on that.
Steve: Does that mean I’m supposed to be in love with Delphi?
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: Only if you promise to call her “Delph-eye.”
Steve: No, we can get into a discussion of why the spelling of Sybill Trelawney’s first name is different in the British version and in the American version…
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Steve: … because that actually ties right in with what we were saying about “Delph-ee” and “Delph-eye,” but let’s just leave that for now.
Michael: So there’s [a lot] of lost love at Hogwarts, and then at home there’s just dueling in the kitchen.
Alison: [laughs] Actually, Michael – I will tell you – I laughed aloud.
Steve: I want to see that scene!
Alison: It was great. I laughed aloud at Flipendo.
Kat: Oh, of course!
Alison: Because all I thought about was Michael and Rosie…
Kat and Michael: The video games!
Alison: Yeah, that’s all I thought about. And I literally just started laughing my head off in the middle of the theater because I was just like, “They just used Flipendo!” [laughs]
Kat: Well, how could you not? How could you not?
Michael: I mean, Flipendo is established as canon, so that’s okay, I guess, because it appeared on Pottermore. But yeah, after years, [and] after quite a few sessions of playing Sorceror’s Stone and hearing Harry endlessly shout, “Flipendo!”…
Michael: … it was fun to have it legitimately used here in a text. That was pretty funny. And I think the duel would be, just like Steve [was] saying, great to see.
Alison: It’s so good.
Michael: It sounds amazing. But the funny thing about this scene is that part of this scene is actually used to establish Brachiabindo as a spell. But then it immediately says, “Yeah, Brachiabindo is really easy to get out of; it has a very easy counter-curse,” which is so funny because Brachiabindo is what’s used to take down Delphi. But it has a counter-curse that’s presented right away. And we’ll get into that stuff with Delphi later. I just think it’s funny because there seems to be an explicit, purposeful use of introducing Brachiabindo here because all of these spells have been used before, and actually, Harry and Draco are replaying a duel they’ve already had.
Alison: And that’s what I really love about this scene. It feels like they’re almost finishing the [Dueling] Club duel because they haven’t gotten to yet. And so they go back to these very almost juvenile spells, these ones they would have used when they were 12 years old, being dumb, not knowing what they were doing, [and] just shooting random things at each other. And they’re just still there, and it just shows there’s still that inner resentment between the two of them and they’re never going to get over it.
Michael: It’s funny you laughed at Flipendo, Alison, because I laughed at Rictusempra…
Michael: … because I was like, “Oh, Harry. Come on. Are we using book Rictusempra, or are we using movie Rictusempra? Because those two do very different things.” [laughs] And it just felt like after all of these more threatening spells that are fired – like you said, Alison – we get back to Tarantallegra and Rictusempra. Flipendo; that’s legit. That’s going to flip you over in the air. Expelliarmus; that’s going to disarm you. Incarcerous is going to do the same thing as Brachiabindo. [laughs]
Steve: So why do we need two versions?
Kat and Michael: Why indeed?
Kat: So we get to this next scene with Scorpius and Delphi, and she’s talking about how easy it was that she got into Hogwarts. And Scorpius is like, “But you’ve never been here?” And she’s like, “No, I was unwell as a child for a few years.”
Michael: Yeah, I think Alison’s explanation for this is actually what is happening.
Alison: Because she’s figured out that saying you are unwell is going to be a huge trigger to Scorpius because of his mother, and so she’s playing on his sympathies. And now she’s thinking, “Oh, Scorpius is the smart one; I [have to] get Scorpius on my side.” And so she plays to his sympathies by saying, “Oh yeah, I was unwell as a kid so I couldn’t come to school.”
Steve: And then his reaction: “You were too ill? I’m sorry. I didn’t know that.”
Alison: Yeah, so it’s going off of his mother [being] unwell for so long, [and] he himself wanted to go to Hogwarts so [badly]. So she’s playing off of all of his insecurities, everything he’s afraid of, and saying, “Oh yeah, this happened to me…”
Steve: So she’s already got Albus. Now she needs to get him.
Alison: Exactly. And this was one where, going back to reading it again, I was like, “Oh, look at what she’s doing. Look at how she’s playing them both.” She’s so good at figuring them out, which is relatively easy with two boys that wear their hearts on their sleeves. She’s figured them out and so she’s going to use them, and I was like, “Oh.”
Michael: I guess this does somewhat prove your theory, Alison, that Delphi has a contingency plan because this isn’t the Delphi we met. This is alternate Delphi. So she ostensibly never had that conversation with Albus. She’s never had that first encounter with Albus and Scorpius that she’s already had. So this is where the Time-Turning gets messy because this Delphi didn’t go to the Ministry and steal a Time-Turner and didn’t get to know these boys in that way, so…
Kat: Maybe I’m reading this wrong or interpreting it wrong, but I assumed that Delphi was above the Time-Turning stuff.
Michael: Oh, I didn’t think so.
Alison: It’s almost like saying Delphi is the same throughout everything. And I think that’s…
Kat: Right. That’s the way I read it, anyway.
Steve: Even though we could have a big argument about timelines and all this stuff, that is true. She stays the same. I think the intention – even though we can say it doesn’t make sense – is that she’s staying the same, and that she has already had all those previous conversations.
Alison: Even if she hasn’t, she still has the same goal. And she doesn’t have the ripples that they talk about. Somehow the core of her being is not affected by the ripples like everyone else is.
Michael: I guess, to me, that’s just giving Delphi too much credit because she goes down so [easily]. [laughs]
Alison: I think there’s a good reason for that, though. I don’t think they necessarily overpowered her. I think she just gives up.
Michael: I have thoughts on that, too, and we’ll get to those in the last act of Part 2. But it’s just funny that she’s… I guess we just have to keep coming up with excuses for her.
Michael: Because this is one of those moments where… And this is why I think a lot of people have complained about the excessive, extensive use of the Time-Turner in this way, because as Steve mentioned, Prisoner was so beautifully crafted in its use of the Time-Turner and established the idea in Harry Potter that time is circular. It’s not quite as wibbly-wobbly as Doctor Who. What’s happened has already happened, has already happened, has already happened, has already happened. We already get the establishment of, “Oh, this is a special Time-Turner. For reasons.” And therefore, the Time-Turner can do crazy ish and not stick to those rules of Prisoner, but at the same time it definitely brings up a lot of complications that I think are the reasons why Rowling was so selective in her use of Time-Turning.
Alison: Yeah, I will admit I was shocked that they used a Time-Turner, but I think it brings out some really good themes and so I’m okay with it.
Steve: Again, it’s a different medium.
Michael: Well yeah, I mean, how could you resist using the Time-Turner on stage when you can come up with such a fabulous visual for it?
Michael: Of course you want to use the Time-Turner because you could play so much with that. Definitely, yeah.
Kat: I have thoughts about the Time-Turner, but this has to be only a few [hours] show, so…
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: Oh, don’t worry; it’ll show up again. You’ll get your chance, Kat. [laughs]
Kat: [unenthusiastically] Yay.
Kat: Okay. So the next bits, we’ve already touched on. They talk about, “Oh gosh, well, Rose wasn’t born because this happened and because Hermione didn’t go to the ball with Krum and blah, blah, blah…” So they decide that the best plan of action is to go back, of course, and to fix what they un-fixed the first time, so to say, which is weird because if this is a 1.5 AU, shouldn’t Albus and Scorpius be different people?
Michael: Ooh, so I talked about that with Alison because that does bring up… I think it’s a little… well, no, it’s the same here. It seems a little more severe in Scorpius’s alternate future that he’ll go into. But yeah, there is that issue of, “What compelled Albus and Scorpius, who were in that proper future timeline – alternate timeline – to go to the spot where Albus and Scorpius ended up? And where did they go?” Because there [are] different Albuses and [Scorpiuses]. Technically, there is another set of Albus and Scorpius out there somewhere.
Michael: So where did they go? [laughs]
Kat: They got in the TARDIS with the Doctor.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: Perfect. Let’s add more time travel complications to this. Yeah, that’s the problem with the alternate universe timeline; everybody is like, “Yeah, we already all know Albus and Scorpius because they exist here.”
Kat: Right, yeah. This is a perfect Podcast Question of the Week, if we still had that.
Michael: Well, listeners, you can answer that one. You can come up with an answer for that in the comment section.
Kat: Right. Yes, please.
Alison: Not to get too much into it; I think it has to do with how you’re thinking about alternate timelines and alternate universes. But that’s a whole other question.
Michael: How are you thinking about this?
Kat: Whether you see time…
Alison: Are you thinking about them being parallel to each other? Or are you thinking about them just being the same, but you do something in the past and that changes everything that happened to the present? Does that make sense?
Kat: Well, that’s what the book is saying. That’s what the book has established, that that’s exactly the way time is happening in this book.
Alison: Yeah, so then there would be no other ones running around because it’s not like they jumped lines; it’s just [that] they went back. But because they went back and changed something, they’ve changed everything that happened up to the moment they come back. This would be so much easier if I could draw something and you could all see this visual. I’m drawing with my hands in the air right now.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: Well, I guess that’s why the timeline that Scorpius will go to in the beginning of Part 2 seems more extreme, because there is a stronger establishment by secondary characters there of, “Oh, this is who Scorpius is in this timeline,” and he’s like, “But I’ve never been that.” So where’d that Scorpius go? So that’s where I’m confused.
Kat: Right. I understand.
Alison: Yeah, that does make sense.
Michael: Well, and in the middle of those scenes there is that brief scene where Malfoy is like, “Gosh, I sure envied you guys. You guys were great. I wish I’d been in your friend group.” So that’s fun.
Alison: I really like that, though.
Kat: I’m not surprised that you like that.
Alison: I know.
Alison: I’ve never been a huge Malfoy sympathizer, but this really softened me toward Malfoy. And I like that he pulls in Ginny and he’s like, “I think Ginny knows what I’m talking about,” because I think that’s a huge deal.
Michael: I like that Ginny pulls herself into the conversation.
Alison: Well yeah, I love Ginny. I love Ginny in this whole show.
Michael: [as Ginny] “Yeah, remember all those times I wanted to hang out with you and you guys told me to go away? Those were great times.”
Kat: All the Draco and Ginny shippers in the world are like, “Yay!”
Michael: [laughs] “Yay, they relate!”
Alison: Are there any of those? Oh my gosh!
Kat: Oh, that’s a pretty big ship.
Alison: Okay, haven’t seen that one.
Michael: That’s a pretty big core ship.
Alison: But I like that moment. I don’t know.
Michael: It’s funny because I like what’s being said, but I don’t really like that it’s coming out of Malfoy’s mouth. But again – as Steve is probably ready to remind me – this is an alternate universe timeline…
Steve: Yes, it is.
Michael: … so it doesn’t really matter. [laughs]
Steve: But I agree with you, Al. I like that scene too. I like it very much. I liked the point of view change because we almost see the novels through Harry’s eyes. Everything is through Harry’s eyes and so we never, ever get a glimpse of what Malfoy is actually… And I’m not just talking about crying in the bathroom; I’m talking about him as a kid, as 11 years old, seeing these other kids who get to do everything. They’re popular and all this stuff, and as he says, his only two friends are two idiots that don’t know one end of a broomstick from another. I mean, that’s an interesting point of view to see the Harry Potter series itself from his point of view. And not in a jokey or a fan fiction-y way, just in a realistic way. What would that have been like?
Alison: And I think that helps explain Scorpius a little bit, too, because so many people are [saying], “Well, how did Draco end up with this dorky, lovable kid?” But I think when you see that Draco had some of the same insecurities and pain that we get Scorpius having, I think that really comes through. I don’t know. I really love it and it softened me toward Draco just a little bit.
Michael: I guess, rather, not so much the… because I have seen that in fan fiction, where Malfoy encounters Harry and some of the trio later in life and is like, “I envied you.” So that’s why it’s not unusual to me. But I guess the larger point that Malfoy is making, in a way – if you just cut some of his specifics about his particular issue – for me, felt they could have come from Ginny and strengthen[ed] Harry and Ginny’s parenting over Albus and the issue that they’re facing as a family. I don’t like that so much of this externally comes from Draco. But I get why, obviously, because Scorpius’s development, which we will get into in Act 2 or in Part 2… But yeah, I feel like there’s almost a missed opportunity because Ginny is more useful here than she’s probably ever gotten to be, through no fault of her own – bless her heart – but I still feel like she’s still just there to remind Harry, [as Ginny] “Yeah, you’re a jerk sometimes. Maybe you should include me in things.” [back to normal voice] So I just feel like there [are] some lines in there that… The overall point Malfoy is making, I feel, in a way, could have come from Ginny.
Kat: Mhm. I feel like this alternate universe Ginny is like movie Ginny. The fire’s there, and it’s underneath, but you don’t really ever get to see it because she just sucks. That’s all.
Michael: [laughs] Through no fault of her own.
Kat: Right, through no fault of her own whatsoever. Exactly, exactly.
Kat: Right, another.
Michael: Another! “Smash.”
[Kat and Michael laugh]
Steve: Yeah, guys, I’ve got to step out. I’ve got to get going. I’m really, really sorry about that because I know we’ve got, what, four, five, six more scenes to go? [laughs] But I really do need to get going, and I’m sorry. But thank you so much for letting me come on and chat with you guys.
Kat: Thanks for being here.
Steve: Oh, it’s so much fun. Have me back, and I’ll try to make sure I don’t have to leave early.
Kat: Oh no, it’s okay. This has been an over two-hour episode so far. Our listeners are very happy, but we understand. [laughs]
Steve: Yeah, well, the thing is now, if you want to find more about timelines, we had a really, really good essay published on the Lexicon just about a week and a half ago about the whole timeline thing and about how timelines work, which is really interesting reading. So if you get a chance, go to the Lexicon at www.hp-lexicon.org, and just check that out. The blog is right on the homepage there, and you can see where there’s an essay about the timelines. So I really wish I could stick around, but I’ve got to go.
Kat: Thank you, Steve. We will definitely talk to you soon. Hopefully in this universe, and not in an alternate one.
Michael: Thank you, Steve. It was a pleasure to meet you and talk to you.
Steve: Oh, great to be here. I just love doing it. I wish I could stay, but I’ve got to go.
Kat: No worries. Thanks, Steve.
Steve: All right. Take care.
Kat: I suppose with Steve’s exit, there’s something I want to bring up, which made me laugh a lot. And I feel like [it] shed light on something that’s been bothering me for a while, which I will not get into. So we have this scene where the boys go to the girl’s bathroom…
Kat: … and we learn her full name. And I’m irritated knowing that it was announced on Twitter by Jo when this was obviously being worked on. And I feel like it goes with what you were saying before, Michael, that she had to say it on Twitter to legitimize it. And I’m a little irritated about it, but I also find it really funny and a little too convenient.
Alison: I just wonder which came first.
Kat: I don’t know if that’s…
Alison: I wonder which came first, whether she said it on Twitter first and then they were like, “Using that,” or if they put it in the play and she was like, “Yeah, I know this now,” and then she was like, “Oh, here we go.” I don’t know.
Kat: No. No. I think that they were going to use Moaning Myrtle, and they were like, “But we want her real name,” and so Jo thought of something, which really isn’t a good solution. I feel a little icky. It feels a little icky.
Michael: I’m not really sure what to think because Moaning Myrtle is one of those [characters] that I think Rowling potentially could have known her name, because I think that did come up at a point in the fandom where everybody was like, “Oh yeah, ‘Moaning’ is not her first name.” [laughs] And Rowling’s names for her other characters that weren’t necessarily revealed in the books, but came out in extra-canonical material such as Pottermore and her tweets, seem to be thought out. She doesn’t just cherry-pick names. And from what I recall, “Elizabeth” and “Warren” [were] fairly… I think when it was picked apart, it was, for some reason, a fit. Hilariously, [it] is not a reference to…
Kat: My senator.
Michael: … Elizabeth Warren, the senator. [laughs] But yeah, as awesome as Elizabeth Warren is, Elizabeth Warren, in real life, is no Moaning Myrtle.
Kat: Right. The problem is [that] I remember – and I’m 98% sure it was in reference to this – she chose it because “It sounded nice,” which, to me, doesn’t scream, “I’ve known this for the last 15 years.”
Michael: Yeah. The only other name she said that about is Umbridge’s middle name, so that’s my recollection. So yeah. I don’t know. I don’t know with that one. For me, it’s like, “Oh, it’s nice to have Myrtle’s full name.” It’s kind of funny that she did bother to give her a middle name and last because usually people… We don’t ask for that in the fandom.
Kat: Right. I suppose, for me – which, again, we’ll get there – it feeds the whole canon debate for me. Just those three little words in this tiny little scene.
Michael: It does feel like another one of those moments for me that I explain like, “Hey, this is canon, so we put it in to remind you that we know canon things.” But yeah, it’s there.
Alison: This scene, though, is hilarious. It’s so funny. [laughs]
Michael: Does it play out well on stage?
Alison: Oh my gosh! It’s hysterically funny. The girl who plays Myrtle has it down. But does it not come across as funny on this page? Because I guess I was just thinking about the whole scene because it was so funny. It was Myrtle in the bathtub again, and it was just funny and awkward, and you’re just like, “Oh my gosh! This is happening again.” [laughs]
Kat: No, it doesn’t read that way for me at all.
Alison: Okay, interesting.
Michael: Yeah, I don’t know why it didn’t read that way. I could tell that it was trying to read that way.
Kat: Yeah, same.
Michael: Maybe that’s why it bothered me. And again, yet another nitpick thing for me that bothers me is that there [are] a lot of scenes in here that rather than being their own scenes, are, to me, seemingly trying to be reminiscent of scenes we’ve already seen.
Kat: Yeah. This, to me, is calling on Shirley Henderson. It’s calling on her Moaning Myrtle and trying to be [her]. And I feel this way a lot about a lot of the Cursed Child scenes. It’s trying to be a scene from the movies, and not necessarily a scene from the books, which I like even less because those are two completely, separate entities, and I don’t want movie stuff in any kind of “published canon” [stuff].
Michael: Well, we see movie spells come out that weren’t introduced in the books. The one you guys cited on [Episode] 200 was the bit where Albus is like, “We’re almost to the viaduct!” It’s like, “Viaduct?”
Kat: Right, exactly.
Michael: It’s hard to say with Myrtle’s name for me. But overall, the scene itself just feels like it’s definitely trying to recall in pieces all of her previous interactions with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. Do they, Alison…? Okay, maybe you can’t explain it in full. They’re going down a pipe, right? To get there?
Alison: Yep. [laughs]
Michael: Okay. Well, all right.
Alison: There’s [a lot] of water on stage. Let’s just go with that.
Michael: Okay. I guess I was confused because I was like, “Are all pipes in Hogwarts as large as the Chamber of Secrets pipe for some reasons?” But I guess ostensibly so because the snake went through all of them.
Alison: There’s got to be a lot of water. There’s a lot of students there. It’s a big castle. You’ve got to get a lot of water to different places at different times.
Kat: But nobody ever showers, so you don’t need water.
Michael: It is funny, though, how these characters that just make such brief appearances are the ones that are used basically to be like, “I saw Albus and Scorpius go that way.” That’s what Myrtle is there for, mostly. She has slightly more purpose in that way than the Trolley Witch because she’s also leading them where to go. But like the Trolley Witch, she’s also like, “I saw them go that way!” And that’s all she serves to do.
Alison: But you’ve always got to have characters that do that, in anything.
Michael: This play just seems to go out of its way to cull as many secondary and background characters as it can to do that.
Kat: This play reads to me like an episode of Scooby-Doo.
Kat: Yes! Think about it. All they ever do is run around and chase after people and say, “They went that way! Yoinks!” That is what this [is] in parts. And don’t forget, Alison…
Alison: I know.
Kat: I enjoyed this, so don’t beat me up. But it reads that way to me quite often. Quite often.
Michael: [as Scooby-Doo] Ruh-roh!
Kat: Exactly. Exactly. It’s just a little bit silly. It’s a little bit ridiculous. It is over the top. Sometimes kind of dumb.
Michael: And with that, they’ve gone back through time again. We’re in 1995 now.
Kat: That is correct, right?
Alison: It’s in February.
Kat: The second task is in February. Right, okay. I thought so. So this is AU [number] three, technically. Right?
Michael: I think.
Kat: Well, it could be [number] four if you count the original timeline.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: Okay, I guess we could say timelines. So this is the fourth timeline – the third AU – technically. Right?
Michael: There we go. I think so.
Kat: Fourth timeline. Third AU. Okay.
Michael: Listeners, feel free to correct us on that if you’d like to go back and count.
Kat: Right. But I’m pretty sure. I’m pretty sure.
Alison: Here’s the thing about these timelines: This is one of the reasons why I think JKR kept saying this needs to be seen as a play. It makes so much more sense when you’re seeing it because they change lighting a little bit. They’re changing costumes a little. Things have changed enough that you’re like, “Okay, something’s different here.” So that’s one of the things [where] when I walked into the theater, I was like, “Oh yeah, this couldn’t have been a book.” This would have been way too confusing trying to keep everything straight, and which one are we in right now? And where are we? Whereas visually, it’s a lot easier to keep track of.
Kat: Warner Bros. or Blair, Pottermore, whomever, has said “that they have no plans to release this as a live showing” or whatever, but I truly hope that they decide to release this as a pre-recorded Fathom event. Because even if it does come to the States – even if it does travel to other countries and [is] performed in other languages – there are going to be people that would just never get the opportunity to see it, no matter how hard they try or want to or wish that they could. And I understand that a recording of a show is not the same, but I have experienced a lot of beautiful shows on the West End, sitting in a movie theater ten minutes from my house.
Kat: For everything that you’ve talked about and everything that you’ve said with the lighting changes and the scenes, the Time-Turner things and the water and all that, I truly hope that they give the rest of the world that opportunity because I feel like they’d be doing our fandom, as a whole – this is a whole other episode – a huge disservice.
Alison: I agree with that, and not even just that. I just want it on DVD. I just want to be able to…
Kat: I don’t think that’ll ever happen.
Alison: I know, but I just want it. I want to be able to experience the whole thing over and over.
Kat: It’s a very different experience to go to an IMAX theater and watch it with surround sound and all of that, as opposed to if you had it on DVD and could download it on your phone. They wouldn’t want you to experience it on a four-inch screen, which I think is the reason why it will never be a DVD. But we have gotten so off topic, and I’m sorry.
Michael: And just to be clear, for any of you Wizarding World of J.K. Rowling or Warner Bros. staff listening, we do not want this to be a movie, ever. Don’t ever turn this into a movie.
Alison: No. No. No, no, no. It would be far too gimmicky. It would be terrible.
Kat: There’s a dastardly rumor going around right now. I just want to make it clear to all the listeners: incredibly false. Remember the New York Post…? Sorry, the New York Daily Post? One of the two is the one who originally reported the story, and they are nothing but a tabloid. So do not believe them. In MuggleNet you can trust. That’s our new slogan.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Alison: Yes. Also, you want Jamie Parker to be your Harry. Let me just tell you that right now. You want him to be your mature Harry.
Michael: I mean, yeah.
Alison: Michael really wants him to be his mature Harry, but…
Michael: I would be just fine with that because he’s lovely. But anyway, Harry is not in this scene.
Kat: Harry is definitely not in this scene because he’s dead.
Alison and Michael: He’s dead.
Michael: [laughs] Yeah. They went and changed it again. Oopsies!
Alison: I will say, the moment Scorpius popped up and Umbridge walked out on stage, I don’t think anyone in the theater was breathing because everyone was starting to put together who was walking out. And everyone was going, “What the actual…?”
Kat: Was she wearing pink? Please tell me she was wearing pink.
Alison: Oh yeah. And actually, it’s quite the fabulous cape.
Alison: But you start putting it together. And I think she “hem-hems” too.
Kat: Ahh! That’s the best.
Alison: And everyone was just like… [breathes shallowly]. Literally, I don’t think anyone in the theater was breathing at that moment as Scorpius is like, “Where’s Albus? Albus Potter? Harry Potter’s son?” and she’s like, “There hasn’t been a Potter here. Harry Potter is dead.” And I think everyone was just like, [gasps]. It’s the moment that Harry collapses in the forest and you’re like, “Harry is dead! The world is ending! What are we going to do now?” It was that feeling. And it was… ahh, man.
Kat: Which is funny, that you say that, because this did not affect me in any way, shape, or form. Everybody was like, “Oh my God! The cliffhanger at the end of Part 1 is so amazing.” And I was like, “Wait, that’s it?”
Michael: Yeah, that’s how I felt.
Alison: It was so unexpected. It was so unexpected. And again, it’s one of those things [where the] lighting [and] the setting contributes to you feeling that way. And I think part of it, too, [is] going in blind. All of a sudden this happens, and everyone was just like, “Wait, what? What?” This was not expected at all. And I didn’t even read the program before, so I didn’t even see the actress’s name listed and the role, and so I was not expecting it at all.
Michael: See, and I guess this goes back to my problem with the play, with this retreading of things we’ve seen and characters we know poking their heads in again and just the general flow of this play. I’d love to think that if I [were] sitting there watching this live that I would have totally been bowled over by this cliffhanger. But I just like to consider myself this particular kind of viewer: I feel like I’ve grown into this kind of viewer who really does actively, even while experiencing something for the first time, pick things apart so that I can read this as a piece of Harry Potter, I can read this as a piece of theater, [and] I can read this as a piece of literature. [That] is what I’m trying to do. Because that’s important to me, especially with discussing this on Alohomora! and not just either full-on hating it or full-on embracing it. And [in] this moment, as with many moments as I was reading Cursed Child, I said aloud to myself, “What?” But I didn’t say it in the way of [excitedly] “What?” like in awe and “Oh my God, amazing,” like I often did with reading and even rereading Harry Potter. I said this as a [flatly] “What?” As the kind of like, “Are we really playing this?” Because we’ve already established that the Time-Turner has risk that can be easily fixed [and] easily undone. So I’m just like, “Yeah, Scorpius will just go back and fix it.” That’s exactly what I thought when I read that part. I was like, “This can be fixed.” And obviously, Harry is not going to be dead. Obviously, Albus will come back because they’re the core of this play. So it didn’t leave me feeling wowed, and I wonder if I would have left the theater feeling wowed. I feel like I would have left the theater going, “Uh-huh,” and gone to see MinaLima Studio, and then come back for Part 2. [laughs]
Kat: Yeah, that’s how I feel whenever something happens to a main character on a television show and it’s four episodes into the season. I’m like, “Well, obviously, they’re not going to die. This does not have me on the edge of my seat.” So I understand the sentiment.
Alison: Even if I know what the outcome’s going to be, I still think I was amazed at, “Okay, how are you going to get out of this?” because this seems so extreme because it is. It’s like, you just messed up real bad. How the heck are you going to go back and fix this when you had enough trouble fixing the tiny little things you did before? And maybe that’s just me. I like to experience the journey too.
Michael: No, I think you and Steve said it at the beginning, which is that you both read and watched in the moment. And I think there’s nothing wrong with that. I think, actually, probably the way to truly enjoy this play is to just let it wash over you and experience it, and especially if you’re seeing it. And I think there would be a part of me that would let that… The best comparison I can think of is watching Jurassic World. There [are] a lot of big problems with that movie. I don’t care! I will pop that movie in happily and watch it a lot, and in a weird way can separate it from Jurassic Park, even though I love, love, love Jurassic Park. And in the same way, part of me wants to do that with Cursed Child. I would want to do it more if I could see it because just reading it is not giving me… What you just said, Alison, about still being in that moment of “Wow, you really screwed up, Scorpius and Albus. How are you going to get out of this?” The other reason that didn’t do anything for me was because that moment has happened so many times in Harry Potter, and I truly wonder, “How are you going to get out of this?” Because Rowling has established the rules where there’s a suggestion that maybe they can’t get out of this. But in Cursed Child, the rules of magic are constantly broken or revised to give the plot an out. So I was just like, “Yeah, we’ve got magical Time-Turners that can do anything. There’s your out. Scorpius is going to definitely do or learn or hear something or meet somebody because there is a whole stable of characters here that will give him an out somehow.”
Kat: “It’s going to be the guy with the mask on that we met earlier in the book.” Sorry, I was going back to Scooby. They always have a mask.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: Yes, it’s Old Man Nelson who was trying to destroy the theme park. [laughs]
Michael: Yeah, I don’t know. Again, as I mentioned before, maybe I am truly like a spoiled Harry Potter fan in that way. I really do feel that, not just in terms of Cursed Child, but in terms of other teen literature that I’ve read and experienced. I’m just like, “This isn’t as good as Harry Potter. Close this book.” I definitely have that issue. So I don’t know if that’s something I would be able to even get over if I saw Cursed Child. But I feel like if I could see it, that really would remedy some of my feelings about this experience. Not all of them, but definitely some of them.
Alison: Definitely, yeah. I will say – this is the one big production thing I won’t spoil – the end of this is the scariest part of this entire show. I literally at one point had my hand covering my eyes because I was like, “Nope! Nope!”
Kat: But how do you know it was the scariest if you didn’t see it?
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: The stage direction gives enough description to know what she’s talking about.
Kat: No, I know. I was just giving her crap.
Alison: Yeah. But literally, it started happening, and I was like, “Not about this life.” And I just started covering my eyes.
Alison: “Nope! Nope!” Especially from the seat I was [in]. It was terrifying.
Kat: You were up in the balcony, right?
Alison: I was up in the second row of the balcony, so it was very close. [laughs]
Michael: And I do think that is one thing about that moment that could potentially… Yeah, I could definitely see that as being an experience. I think the Dementors really strongly affect every Harry Potter fan, in our own way. And I think we’ve all had pretty visceral reactions to the Dementors. We’ve all talked about that, I think. The movies and the theme park have done an excellent job, I think, extending on [them]. There [are] so many wonderful visual possibilities with the Dementors that have always been used to their, I think, maximum potential in their mediums. They’re fabulous in Prisoner of Azkaban the movie. They even do have a lasting effect in their later movie appearances and, without spoiling anything, listeners, if you haven’t been to Universal Studios, they are used to excellent effect when they appear…
Kat: It’s worse than that, though. I will tell you that. It’s worse than that.
Michael: And, well, that’s just it. That’s just it. I think that by having them in that moment, that’s the next way to take it to the next step. To bring them fully… like they could touch you in a way that they’ve never been able to, and I think that’s the excitement of Harry Potter on stage. It’s the next best thing to Universal Studios, in that way, where finally the magic is tangible; it can interact with you, which is the magic of theater in general, but why not try giving it…? At least, the big thing I can commend this play [on] is it tried to put Harry Potter on stage, and there’s so much theatrical potential there. Glad that they gave that a shot and that, for what it’s worth, it’s probably inspiring thousands of children, teens, young adults, and maybe even some adults, to experience theater more. And if that’s the positive that comes out of it, I’m all for that.
Kat: Yeah, as long as we don’t see a Twilight stage show. Oh my gosh.
Kat: Or a Divergent stage show, or even worse, a Hunger Games stage show.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Alison: Could you imagine?
Kat: No and yes.
Michael: So much blood. I don’t want to imagine.
Kat: Exactly. I don’t want to.
Kat: But yeah, I’m really glad that this has come out when it has. As much as I said before, “I reject it. I don’t want it. I don’t need it,” I’m excited about the fact we have all of this past knowledge and experience, not only with Harry Potter but with each other and with our listeners, to allow us to talk about this like we have been for the last two and a half hours, and we just talked about 60 pages or something. A quarter of the book. Again, I have very separate, very strong, in-depth feelings about this, but I am thankful to Tiffany and Thorne for penning this, if for no other reason than to allow these four episodes of discussion.
Michael: Thorne, I’ve got my eye on you because I read the back-flap page notes. You’re adapting the Golden Compass and His Dark Materials for the BBC, sir. You’d better do it right! [laughs] Because Harry Potter is close to my heart and will forever be “bae,” as the kids say…
[Alison and Kat laugh]
Michael: … but His Dark Materials, that is my favorite young adult trilogy of all time. So be careful where you step, sir. [laughs] But yeah, I’m with you, Kat. I’m glad. I’m a little disturbed, in a way, that this is the discussion we’re having about a piece of Harry Potter material because I guess I really held out hoping this… So many people were saying, “Oh, she’s going to George Lucas it,” and I don’t want to necessarily say that she did because there’s so much passion for it on the other end. And I think, Alison, you and Steve both did a great job of articulating how you can experience this another way and get something rich out of it. And I think, perhaps, over the years, that’s not really happened for the Star Wars prequels, so much so that they have been completely rejected in The Force Awakens. So I don’t want to say she’s George Lucas’d, but I’m really interested and a little apprehensive [and] a little nervous [and] simultaneously a little excited, and I have no fear about Fantastic Beasts in that way.
Kat: Oh yeah, she’d better not be lying this time, though, when she says she’s done with Harry. Because if she’s lying and she writes something else, I’m going to go to Scotland and I’m going to smack her.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: Because she’s said it before and she went back on her word, and now we have this thing and she’d better not do it again.
Michael: And then you’ll, of course, give her a huge hug and be like, “Thanks for the first seven. Those, though, they were great.” [laughs]
Alison: I’m going to save my thoughts on canon for another time because, actually, it does have to do a lot with Star Wars on how I see all these things connecting.
Kat: Yeah, that’s a bonus episode coming up, listeners. So be ready for that.
Alison: I was going to say, I do think it’s lovely that we have something that we can passionately talk about. I’ve seen a lot of people in the fandom just outright reject it for very surface reasons, and I just wish more people would critically analyze it before they rejected it more. Because I definitely love it, but I definitely see its faults, and I think it has some very big faults.
Kat: That’s why it’s important what we’re doing here.
Kat: I’m not saying that to be like, “Oho, oho, we’re important,” but…
Kat: … it’s important to not fully love something, or fully reject something, without discussing it and listening to other points of view and coming up with an educated, fact-based reason as to why you do or don’t like it.
Alison: Exactly. Yeah.
Kat: Because you cannot 100% love something and you cannot 100% hate something that you care so much about, like Harry Potter. There’s always going to be something divisive, whether it’s something you love or something you don’t love.
Michael: No, I think that that’s a really great, important point to make because I think something that the fandom has wanted to see, and is starting to see, finally, especially because those people who grew up with Harry Potter… some of us have entered into education and academic settings, and I think the Harry Potter fandom really, really wants to see Harry Potter analyzed that way. But we, the fandom, have to start looking at it that way first. And it’s definitely important, I think. Just as much as it is important for those of us who didn’t like Cursed Child to look at it [and say], “Maybe there [are] positives here,” it’s just as important for the people who embraced and adored Cursed Child to maybe step back, too, and say, “What was wrong here?” And we can, hopefully, by the end of these four episodes… I can’t believe we’re already halfway through. We can maybe…
Kat: It’s like we just started two weeks ago.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: It’s like we just started. But hopefully, we’ll be able to meet in the middle somewhere, and when Kat goes to Scotland to smack J.K. Rowling in the face, Alison will be alongside her to give her a hug for Cursed Child. [laughs]
Kat: I mean, I want to hug her too.
Alison: [laughs] Yes.
Kat: I’m going to hug her, and then I’m going to smack her, and then I’m going to hug her and buy her tea.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: Does that work? Is that good?
Alison: It’s fine. Everyone, J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, [and] Jack Thorne called me and Michael. [With] that four-hour conversation we had, we think we fixed all your problems, so call us.
Michael: Yeah, we actually figured it out.
Alison and Michael: We got it.
Alison: It was easy.
Michael: Well, if Alison and I had more time in our lives, we’d totally write our version and do a fan fiction and post it on MuggleNet Fan Fiction.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: And it’d be so good, you guys.
Kat: I feel like you guys need to write a chapter of that for our Patreon sponsors.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Alison: Okay, okay.
Michael: That may become a thing. That may happen.
Alison: I will say, if anyone’s interested, I wrote a mini-meta. If you can find my Tumblr, I wrote a mini-meta on why I love Scorpius and Albus so much/fic. I’m not quite sure what it was. It was a bit of a mess. But it’s out there in the world, if anyone wants to go find it. That’s all.
Kat: Good to know.
Michael: And if you want to find more information on what is canon in Harry Potter, because you’re probably wondering after this episode, make sure and go to the Harry Potter Lexicon, which is run by our fabulous guest, Steve Vander Ark, [whom] we were very thankful was able to join us today. Sadly, he couldn’t be here through the whole show because he’s a busy man. He’s got things to do. But we want to make sure…
Kat: And we like to talk a lot.
Michael: And we talk a lot. Thank goodness Eric wasn’t on this episode with me.
Kat: Oh God, yeah.
Michael: It’d be double the length. Once again, thank you to Steve Vander Ark. We really appreciate you heading onto the show with us and chatting about this new piece of Harry Potter information.
Kat: And I want to give a little quick shout-out because the day this episode releases, September 3, is the lovely Laura Riley’s birthday.
Alison: Oh, yay. Happy birthday, Laura!
Kat: So everybody should send her a shout-out on Twitter. Send her some love. And happy birthday, Miss Laura.
Michael: Happy birthday, Miss Laura! We miss you, and we adore you. And come be on the show any time you want, girl. You have full rights and privileges. But she knows that.
Kat: She does.
Michael: Also, I guess since it’ll be past that time: Good luck, new Hogwarts students! Please don’t have as tough of a year as Albus.
Kat: Oh boy.
Alison: Don’t jump off the train. [laughs]
Michael: Make some friends. Yeah, and do not jump off the train. Do not.
Alison: Since we’re not going to jump off trains, and we’re stuck with Scorpius in this sad, sad, dark world, our next topic is going to be Cursed Child: Part 2, Act 1. And I’m sorry that you all have to wait longer than we even had to wait in the theater to get to the next part because three hours was bad enough. You guys [have] to wait, like, two weeks, so I’m sorry.
Kat: That’s okay. It wasn’t as good of a cliffhanger anyway.
Alison: Yeah, it was. It was.
Michael: [laughs] Well, for those of us sitting on the edge of our seats, it’s just terrible. I’m sure the listeners are sitting on the edge of their seats for more Cursed Child and Alohomora! discussion, and if you want to be a part of that discussion, we want you, listeners, to be on the show. You don’t have to run the Harry Potter Lexicon like Steve Vander Ark; you can just be reading Harry Potter in your room, and we would love to have you there. You can also head to our topic submit page on the main site, alohomora.mugglenet.com. Please go suggest topics for us because once Cursed Child has wrapped up, it’s back to topic episodes, and we want to be talking about what you, the listeners, want to be talking about. If you want to join us on the show and have a set of headphones with a mic built into your computer, or a separate microphone, as well as a recording program of some kind – there are many free to download – you’re all set. We really don’t require anything terribly fancy from you.
Kat: And in the meantime, if you want to yell at us for anything we’ve said…
Kat: … you can always find us on social media at Twitter, @AlohomoraMN, [and] facebook.com/openthedumbledore. Our website, of course. You know it. You love it. You use it. You comment on it. alohomora.mugglenet.com. And you can always send us an audioBoom. We still have that, guys, so you should feel free to use it. We haven’t gotten any in the last couple weeks, and we know you have lots of feelings about Cursed Child, so send them in to us, please. Keep them under 60 seconds, and you could hear them on the show. You can be on the show, even if you can’t be on the show.
Kat: Like Albus when he’s Time-Turning. Never mind.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Michael: Yeah, there’s an element of preserved time… time movement in a recording. There you go. We’re Time-Turning right now, right? Because we’re not recording on September 3. Whoa.
Michael: [laughs] And speaking of contact, special shout-out to listeners who have been in touch with each of us on Twitter, both on our @AlohomoraMN page as well as each of our individual Twitters. I just have to say that because I’ve never seen so much Twitter action in my whole time on Twitter.
Kat: [laughs] No.
Michael: And I think we’ve all peaked on Twitter because people were very happily and enthusiastically tweeting us about Cursed Child, so it’s really been great to talk to you guys. And definitely keep that discussion up. And please also make sure to share your thoughts on the forums and the main site and through these contact ways as well because that’s the stuff we can actually put on the show. And we also want to remind you one more time to please check out our Patreon page, another thing that you listeners contribute fabulously to. You can sponsor us at patreon.com/alohomora. You can sponsor us for as low as $1 a month. It doesn’t take much to keep Alohomora! going. It really helps us to continue the show past the reread, and it’s because of you guys that we are able to sit here and discuss Cursed Child and many other topics that we’ll have coming up. And once again, thank you to Lauren for sponsoring this particular episode on Patreon. We appreciate your help. Thank you.
Kat: Thank you, Lauren.
Alison and Kat: Yay.
Michael: But for now, we’re going to Time-Turner ourselves right out of here.
Kat: [makes Time-Turning noise]
Michael: [laughs] [makes Time-Turning noise] That’s the sound of Time-Turning.
Michael: The exact sound on stage. [makes Time-Turning noise]
[Show music begins]
Michael: I’m Michael Harle.
Kat: I’m Kat Miller.
Alison: And I’m Alison Siggard. Thank you for listening to Episode 201 of Alohomora!
Kat: Open the [makes Time-Turning noise] Dumbledore.
Kat: Was that okay?
Alison: That was precious. That was precious.
Michael: That was perfect. That was exactly what I was hoping for.
Kat: Am I a perfect little cinnamon bun like Scorpius?
Alison: Yes, yes, yes.
Michael: Yes, you are, you perfect little cinnamon roll.
[Show music continues]
Michael: [sighs] Oh, I’m on the bottom of the page in the recap section. That’s why.
Michael: Whoopsie-daisy. Let me Time-Turn that. [laughs]
Kat: Whoopsie-daisy? Who says “whoopsie-daisy”? I’m sorry. It’s just Notting Hill. You just reminded me of Notting Hill.
Michael: [laughs] Oh.
Kat: And it was the cutest thing ever. I’m sorry.
Michael: [laughs] I go for nostalgic reminders. That’s my goal in life.
Kat: I appreciate that.
[Alison and Michael laugh]
Kat: [sighs] I feel a little icky. It feels a little icky. It feels icky.