Transcript – Bonus Episode 4

[Show music begins]

Alison Siggard: Welcome to a special episode of Alohomora!, everyone. This is, if you didn’t see by reading the title, a very special episode. We are talking about the theater of Cursed Child. I’m Alison Siggard from Alohomora!, and joining me [are] MuggleNet staffers Claire, Sophie, and Mary. So introduce yourself, guys. Tell the listeners and let us know when you saw Cursed Child.

Claire Furner: Hi guys, I’m Claire. I feature on SpeakBeasty – I was one of the rotating hosts – and I’m also one of the senior staffers heading up the London team, attending some of the events. It was good fun. And I saw Cursed Child as part of one of those London events, just over a week ago. I reviewed the show for the site last Wednesday.

Sophie Reid: I’m Sophie. I’m a rotating host on SpeakBeasty and also part of the news team for MuggleNet. And I saw [Cursed Child] [in] the beginning of June. It was the second preview, so I think it was June 11 or 14.

Mary Wojcicki: Hi, I’m Mary, and I’m on the MuggleNet News Team. And I saw Cursed Child on August 7.

Alison: And I saw it on June 30, so they were about a month into previews and had about a month to go. So it’s been a little bit, but I’m still trying to remember all things. I keep replaying it all in my head.

[Alison and Sophie laugh]

Alison: So just [a] general spoiler warning [for] everyone, obviously… We all saw the show; we’re going to talk about it. We might spoil some things. If you haven’t read the script yet [or] haven’t seen it yet [and] don’t want to be spoiled, stop listening now… [laughs] … until you get there. But for now, we’re just going to talk about what we thought about the show. The script itself we might touch on a little bit, but we’re going to reserve that a little bit more for the Alohomora! episodes that are coming up where we’re going to dig into each act and each part. But what did you guys think of the show? Now that we’ve all seen it, what were your immediate reactions? Claire, how about you go first? She wrote MuggleNet’s official review.

Claire: Yes, so if you’ve read the review, you’ll know it’s slightly grumpy.

[Alison and Claire laugh]

Claire: I think… Part 1, I liked. There were some issues – the premise of the time travel wasn’t my favorite thing – but by the end of it, by the end of Part 1, my jaw was on the floor and I was like, “Okay, that was insane. I don’t quite know how to process this.” Then I went and spent two hours writing up Part 1 of my review [and] went back into the theater. [laughs] In the interval of Part 2, I sent Sophie and Alison some very strong-worded messages…

[Alison and Sophie laugh]

Claire: … like, “Hold the line, I’m about to walk out. I hated [Act] 1 of Part 2.” And by the end of Part 2, I was getting quite grumpy because some of it just really bothered me. Since then, I have changed my mind, but yeah, my immediate reactions were, “Loved Part 1. Part 2 infuriated me.”

Alison: Sophie, how about you?

Sophie: Yeah… I loved it. I think my initial reaction was just delight to be in that world again and just to have those characters back again and just… It was really hard – well, it still is [laughs] – to sum up how I felt. I knew some of it I didn’t like, but I think there were bits that just swayed me. And also, I had three days to process Part 1 before I saw Part 2…

Alison: Oh, I can’t believe you did that still… [laughs]

Sophie: [laughs] Which I think made quite a difference in the way I reacted, maybe, because I had so long to think about it. I was just looking back at the notes I made afterward [and] it was quite interesting to see what I thought.

Mary: For me, initially, I think I was pretty put off by the script. So going into it, I really wasn’t sure what I was going to think of the play itself. But quickly, as Part 1 began, I was like, “Okay, I like this. This is great. I actually enjoy this,”[and] I was not expecting to react that way. I saw both parts on the same day because it was a Sunday. So then, going back in for Part 2 where that left off, it was sort of like, “Oh yeah, let’s go into the land of ‘For Voldemort and Valor’ now.”

[Alison laughs]

Mary: That was, I think, one of the… There were some parts that were a little bit weaker, I thought. I thought Part 1 overall was better, but the second part of the play, I wasn’t as much of a fan as I was the first part.

Alison: Okay. If anyone follows me on anything, you know that I’ve been raving about this for two months now. [laughs] I loved it. I do definitely see its week spots, and I could see some of them while I was watching it. I, too, spent the intermission of Part 2 with my head in my hands, just going, “Oh no, oh no, oh no!” But actually, walking out of Part 1… Obviously, we hadn’t read the script yet, so it ends on that cliffhanger with Scorpius and Umbridge. And my friend who was with me… we walked out of the theater, went to go get dinner, and just sat there at a table going, “Oh my gosh, what is happening right now?” for about three hours until we went to Part 2. But yeah, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was an absolute delight. And I think a lot of that really comes from the actual production of it, so that’s our focus today. There [are] going to be four episodes of Alohomora! [where] we’re going to really dig into the script and the plot, but what we’re going to talk about [here] are the things that make a show a show. Things like costuming, sets, the music, casting… that’s our focus for this episode. So the first thing we want to talk about is costuming. Some of you have probably seen this; if you haven’t seen the show yet, you’ve probably seen pictures. I thought the costuming was brilliant. I’m especially fond of the new Hogwarts uniforms. What did you guys think?

Sophie: I agree. I loved the new Hogwarts uniforms as well; I thought they were great. I loved the jumpers and everything and… yeah. [laughs] That’s what I have to say!

Alison: I love that the sweaters are the House colors instead of just gray.

Sophie: Yeah, I love that. That’s really good. And the cloaks looked… the robes just looked really nice. I don’t know, it was just…

Claire: That moment at the very beginning where they’re on King’s Cross and they’re all in Muggle clothes, and then they just pull on their hoodies…

Mary and Sophie: Yes!

Claire: … and they become cloaks, that was the moment I was like, “Oh, it’s magic!” [laughs] It’s probably the simplest thing; they had them try on shirts…

Mary: It’s theater magic!

[Alison laughs]

Claire: Yeah. The whole audience gasped at that point, and I thought that was absolutely wonderful. But the cloaks were beautiful – especially with the movement, which we’ll talk about a little bit later – but I really loved the cloaks. I also loved how Harry, Ron, and Hermione were all dressed.

Mary: Yes.

Claire: I loved Hermione’s skirts, fitted blazers or jackets, and then… I thought Harry looked so dapper…

Mary: Yeah. [laughs]

Sophie: That was great.

Claire: … in a suit and tie, [all] dressed up. It was very different to stuff that we’ve seen on screen, but also stuff that has been suggested in the books that wizards don’t know how to dress themselves. But I think it was always implied that maybe this generation [was] making a bit more of an effort to dress like Muggles…

[Mary laughs]

Claire: … because they didn’t really want to prance around in capes all the time. But yeah, I think they did that very well. There were other ones that for me didn’t work… I thought some of the professors when they go back in time looked a bit naff, and I think that probably comes down to the fact that they were multi roling, so they just had to throw those thick costumes on and they’re temporary. But then on the flip side, I did really enjoy Umbridge’s outfit; she has a fabulous pink cape. That cape, I wanted so bad…

Alison and Sophie: Yes!

Claire: And Hermione’s pink coat… oh my God, I need that! More than I need Newt’s blue coat, I need Hermione’s pink coat.

[Alison, Mary, and Sophie laugh]

Claire: Just super.

Alison: I’ve seen a lot of people [who] don’t like Ginny’s sweater, which I think is so funny because I thought it was…

Claire: Yeah, I hated it.

Alison: … perfect[ly] Weasley.

[Mary laughs]

Sophie: Yeah, I liked it too.

Claire: [laughs] Aww, Ginny…

Mary: See, I didn’t… I mean, I can see both sides of it. It felt very Stepford Wives to me.

Alison: [laughs] Okay.

Mary: To me, that’s not Ginny Weasley at all.

Claire: Yeah, I’d agree with that one. That didn’t work for me. But mostly, I did quite like what Malfoy was wearing because that still felt wizard-like. You wouldn’t catch your average Muggle wearing that.

[Alison laughs]

Claire: So I think that worked very well. And I thought something that was really clever was how they did Moaning Myrtle. She was in a grey dress, but then the costume and makeup was added to that to make her look like she was a ghost, which I thought was incredibly clever because there were no special effects or lighting that made her look anything more unusual; it was purely costume makeup and her brilliant performance on that wheelie thing that was going around.

Alison: Yes!

Claire: That worked, and so I thought that was pretty smart. As a different sidetrack, one of the few things I liked in the time travel scenes was the Hogwarts robes under Voldemort; they were very like futuristic Nazis, and that worked quite well.

Alison: I was really impressed with all the water parts, like the lake and Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, [and] how they worked with the costumes and the makeup and everything with the water. [laughs]

Because that’s, I’m sure… I couldn’t decide. I was like, “There’s either a team of people backstage [who], every time someone gets out of one of these water scenes, are just re-doing everything, or they’ve got really good waterproof makeup or something.

[Everyone laughs]

Claire: Either way, impressive.

Alison: Okay, let’s go to something that’s related: sets. What were your favorite sets? I was so impressed by the whole stage set-up.

Claire: Yeah, it worked incredibly well. Again, this ties in with movement, but when you’re flitting between not just different locations – different places in Hogwarts and the Ministry of Magic – but also flitting between times, to have big solid sets that they’re just flying in and out of all the time just wouldn’t have worked. But the limited stuff they did have and the efficiency with which they used it… And I’m fairly sure this will be something you’ll be referencing, Alison, but the staircases were brilliant.

Alison: Loved them. Yeah.

Claire: Occasionally they were overused, but not only were they used to give an element of time, but also for dramatic tension. In one of the flashbacks, or time travel scenes, where Ron and Hermione are talking and not talking and they almost touch and then the staircases moved, it’s just… aww, that was beautiful. It was so well done.

Mary: Oh, that part was great.

Alison and Sophie: Yeah.

Mary: I was about to mention that if you weren’t going to.

[Sophie laughs]

Claire: Yeah, it was beautiful.

Alison: Also, when Albus and Scorpius keep passing each other but they never meet, and they’re just moving ever… Oh my gosh, that one hurt my heart so much!

[Everyone laughs]

Sophie: Yeah, that was a good one, because they don’t speak at all in that, do they? So it’s just them passing each other. Yeah, it worked quite well.

Alison: I also really appreciated all the clocks everywhere. If you haven’t seen it, listeners, in the back there’s a large clock that’s the centerpiece, especially of the beginning. And then the front pieces, there’s a clock on each side, and then there’s the waning moon going across. It was so beautiful, and very much, I think, highlighted the themes about time and consequences that were happening throughout the plot.

Claire: Yeah, definitely, that worked very well. I also really liked the underwater scenes; so simple but so brilliantly done.

Alison: Yes!

Mary: Oh, the second task?

Claire: Yeah, the big bubble coming down, and then you see him dangling behind. I think because there was so little staging a lot of the time, that thing coming down looked so fancy. It was probably one of the biggest set pieces, and it worked very well to create a whole new setting underwater. They were like, “We’re going to go underwater,” and I was like, “Okay, how are they going to do that?” [laughs]

Alison: [laughs] I also really appreciated how they did [the] portraits. Maybe it was just [because] I was up on the balcony, so I was at an angle and could see how things were happening, [laughs] which is always the fun thing about going to a show and sitting somewhere high up. But it was so simple, too, like you said; it was just a picture frame on a box that was just sliding across with someone on it. But they made it look… the actors in these frames did it so well that it really did look like they were in a painting and were two-dimensional. It was a very interesting effect.

Claire: Yeah, this is why they had two months worth of previews. [laughs] Because of all the intricate little details that had to be hammered home. It would be interesting to know – because Sophie, you saw it the earliest – were there errors? Did it feel like they weren’t comfortable?

Sophie: No, it was actually amazing how smooth it was. There was one thing: Someone’s cloak got caught as they were moving something, and you just saw someone had to run out and tug them out.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Oh no!

Sophie: And that was a moment where everyone was like, “Oh, okay…” It takes you out of it. But otherwise, it was actually amazing how smooth it already seemed and how few mistakes there seemed to be, because there was a lot going on.

Claire: That’s really impressive, because I was like, “Okay, they’re doing two months of previews because so much is going to go wrong.” [laughs]

[Alison laughs]

Claire: Do you think maybe that’s why they brought the reviews back to report them forward, so people could release their reviews a week earlier than it was originally meant to be? I think that was probably a sign of confidence, obviously, that they were getting it relatively early.

Sophie and Alison: Yeah.

Claire: They were like, “All right, we can get these critics in now.” [laughs]

Alison: By the time I saw it – so they’d been doing them for about a month – the only thing that really happened was when Harry is changing into Voldemort, there was a little bit of a hiccup and he kind of got stuck, I think, in however they were switching out those actors because he had two hands in one sleeve.

[Everyone laughs]

Claire: Amazing.

Alison: I think if you were sitting closer to the stage, you wouldn’t have seen it because it was flat on the ground, but up in the balcony it was like, “Oh, whoops! That happened there.” [laughs]

Claire: Amazing. Smaller details I thought were great with the sets were just how… we were saying about the staircases being effective, but I thought the suitcases were so effective. Like or loathe the graveyard scenes, I thought the effect of the suitcases as gravestones was beautiful and really simple, and gave an odd kind of, I don’t know, cyclical nature of… you’ve got the suitcases of these young students going to school and then you’ve got the gravestones of death and time. The circle of life. So I thought that was really, really lovely. And the way they did dreams and sequences…

Alison: Oh my goodness, yeah.

Mary: Oh, wow.

Claire: So to merge the sets that way, I thought, was quite clever. When he had that dream of seeing Albus in the forest, it was morphed with that scene where… oh my gosh, now I’m losing the whereabouts it took place, but it was morphed with him being on the stairs and sleeping and then seeing the scene with Albus coming underneath the staircase… just really simple. They were relatively simple moments but just very, very effectively done without having to have a multitude of staircases and sets just coming in and out, which was very effective.

Alison: And even the way they used the moving staircases for Harry’s cupboard under the stairs… That scene does not come across as creepy in the script as it did on stage, the one with Voldemort’s hands coming out where [Harry] is having a nightmare as a kid. Oh my gosh, it was terrifying. That one is going to haunt me for a while.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: So one of the things, Claire, that you were talking about… You were talking about how the sets were moving a lot. And I think one of my favorite things of the whole show was this music and movement thing, so Mary, I think you’re heading this one.

Mary: All right, so the music was done by Imogen Heap and the sound design was done by Gareth Fry. And for me, my initial reaction was that it was a little bit difficult to get used to. I’m so accustomed to the film soundtracks, like John Williams and all that, that it was sort of hard getting into that very kind of airy and ethereal mindset at first. But the more I watched the show, it became very recognizably Imogen Heap’s music. I think at one point “Hide and Seek” was actually sampled…

[Alison laughs]

Mary: … when Albus and Scorpius are back in time in the Durmstrang rooms and they see Hogwarts.

Alison: Oh, I didn’t notice that.

Mary: You can vaguely hear the “Oily marks appear on walls” part of it. And that’s probably because I listen to the song way too much.

[Alison, Claire, and Sophie laugh]

Mary: But that was the one instance where I did notice that one of her songs was actually sampled for the play, which I thought was really interesting. The music for the first part, I thought, was a lot nicer than the second part. For Part 2, I felt it was obviously fitting the mood of the scenes in there – it was a little bit darker – but I felt as though it was a bit forced, especially because Imogen’s music is so… again, I can’t think of a better word than “ethereal” for it, but it felt a little bit like, “Oh, how do I get this to be dark enough to fit the tone of what’s going on here?” But other than that, I really did enjoy the music and it ultimately did make everything feel a lot more magical, but in a different way from how the films felt.

Alison: I think one of the more lovely things about this play is that they had all these scene changes that this music came up in a lot. One of my favorites is when they’re changing to Godric’s Hollow. They have all the doors and it’s Halloween, and so they have a lot of the ensemble coming out through these doors and they’re all carrying lit jack-o-lanterns, and it was almost like they were dancing. It was absolutely beautiful, which I think is not something you see very often in something that’s not a musical play. [laughs]

Claire: Yeah, the music for me definitely felt very theatrical. I’m not as familiar with Imogen Heap’s work, so it didn’t jar for me at all. When it first started, I was like, “Oh, we’re seeing a play.” It was very, very theatrical for me. Because I don’t know her music so well, it just kind of flowed, and in the first five minutes it felt comfortable enough I barely even noticed it, which is a good sign, I guess. But the thing that I think really stood out for me was the sound design, because the magic with the wands has to take three things for it to be believable, and that’s the actors actually convincing you that they’re actually casting magic, the effects that go with it – whether that’s lighting or actual physical things happening – but also, the sounds. And it was so subtle but just so brilliant. When there’s a swish of a wand and someone says, “Lumos,” you just get a little bit of [makes whooshing sound]. It was so light but just brilliant. And I think for me, it surpassed the [films], just the music. I thought the sound design just absolutely nailed it.

Alison: Do you guys think that they’ll release the soundtrack to it at all?

Claire: Any way they can make money. [laughs] Probably.

Alison: Okay. [laughs] I wonder if that will change the reading experience at all. I wonder if people will be able to match up the script to the soundtrack and whether that will change the tone in which they read it. I don’t know. Maybe this is just me, but you can read things in different tones, and sometimes even when I was reading it after seeing it, I was reading it differently than they had done it, and I knew I was. [laughs] And some of that, I think, really comes down to the music and how it sets up this world and this magic that is going on onstage.

Claire: Yeah, and the pacing that it creates as well. In some of the scenes the music almost rushed it intentionally, sort of like getting through a scene and other scenes in relation to the movement. I felt like it was stretched out just to sort of pad it out a little bit and just forget that it’s an unnecessary little thing happening right now, and the music helped drive that. And yeah, I think if you look and listen along, it will help people who haven’t seen the show get an understanding of how it’s being staged, because at the moment people only got photos.

Alison: Yeah.

Claire: There [aren’t] too [many] live recordings of it, and I don’t think there will be for a while. But if there’s music coming out, I think they potentially will. With a name like Imogen Heap, I think you could probably do pretty well with selling that soundtrack.

Alison: I would agree with that.

Sophie: It’s so long ago now that I saw it that it’s kind of hard to really remember it so clearly… [laughs]

I think because it was just the atmosphere and it worked really well, so it’s just part of it. [laughs] Okay, so next we’re going to talk about the effects and lighting. Obviously, with the magic there were lots of effects throughout the play, which we’ve already touched on. So the illusions and magic were created by Jamie Harrison, special effects [by] Jeremy Chernick, and video design by Finn Ross. So I thought all the effects [and] the illusions that they created were amazing, and they were definitely some of the things that stuck in my mind about the play. And reading the script, they came back to me, and there were lots of highlights. They used a lot of clever costume changes to give the effect of people changing robes and appearing where they hadn’t been before. I think one of the highlights was definitely when Albus, Scorpius, and Delphi take the Polyjuice Potion and change into the trio, because they just disappear inside the robes and the others appear. I don’t know if anyone else had anything to say on that.

Claire: Also, there’s a moment right after that that’s brilliant because the trio [is] like, “Oh gosh, we’ve got to hide!” And then they walk through the door, but then the Harry and Hermione characters come on stage seconds later…

Sophie: Oh, yes!

Alison and Mary: Yeah!

Claire: And I was talking about it with a friend [and] I was like, “How did they do that? Is there a trap door?”

Sophie: I hadn’t thought about that. [laughs]

Claire: Did they just trick us, and as they turned around someone else was there? I genuinely still don’t know how they did that because I think there has to be something… They just must’ve legged it around, but their costumes were different… Brilliant. Just so clever. [laughs]

Sophie: Yeah, so clever.

Mary: It was so rapid. That was so, so rapid that it was like, “Wait a second. They’re there, now they’re there.”

Claire: Yeah! [laughs] Because [in] every other scene, I could see how they did it: “Oh, okay, they’ve hidden his face; I know that’s how they did that.” But that scene just was so quick. The Polyjuice Potion was just brilliant. I love that they took their time on it. There are some things I didn’t like how they took their time on, but that one they really milked and it was just great. I was telling you guys that when I saw it, it got a round of applause. Every single one that happened, everyone just all burst into applause. [laughs] It was so good.

Alison: That’s the first big change, I think, if I’m remembering right. I might not be. But I think that’s one of the first big changes, and I just remember everyone was just so in awe of… All of a sudden they were the kids and then they were the adults. It was so quick and so seamless that it really looked like magic. [laughs]

Claire: Yeah, it was brilliant. In terms of the magic, for me, the wand fights were just brilliant as well. I think there’s a real mixture of very simple or very traditional stage craft, like the tricks of the Polyjuice Potion… I mean, we all know how it worked, but it was just so effective the way they did it. It was brilliant. I think the same with the wand fights, the duel between Draco and Harry in the kitchen, which I’m not sure…

Alison: Yeah.

Claire: Going through the books again, I just listened to Cursed Child and it was a really nice mirroring of the duel fight and the Duel[ing] Club in Chamber of Secrets. But you could see how it was happening, and occasionally the actors dressed in black that were propping them up would…you’d just catch them in the light. I’m not sure if from the balcony you could see them more, but it was just so fun and I think that’s what I really liked about the magic. There [were] some brilliant, intense, oh-my-God-wow! sort of effects, but a lot of it just brought the levity into magic that we’ve enjoyed so much from the books, and it was so easy and quick. “Lumos” was thrown out left, right, and center, so it felt like magic was second nature to these people and it wasn’t just tacked on. It could very easily have just been [that] magic happened in the big scenes, the big moments, but it happened constantly for just the simplest moments and the simplest things. I think that was probably [the] highlight for me, just the whole thing, the [consistent] magic and special effects. I don’t know who was doing what. I imagine the flames of the spells, which were also great, were special effects and then the people appearing in different places would come under illusions, but that team [was] on it. [laughs]

Alison: Yeah, definitely. So many pyrotechnics too.

Claire: Mhm. So much.

Alison: I was so impressed with how much they just… I mean, the Patronus was just a shape that they lit on fire. And actually, from the balcony we could see the guy who was trying to light it on fire.

[Alison and Claire laugh]

Alison: He had to do it a couple times. Yeah, it looks just like a doe’s head and they just lit it on fire. But they must have had chemicals on it because it glowed green, which I think was really interesting to have it be more of a green tint because I’m so used to the silver of the movies. And then there’s a guy back there just… It was almost like what they would do in The Lion King [laughs] with the animal heads moving. It was so fascinating to see that and then all the spells and…

Claire: I liked with the Patronus how it slowly burned, so it was like their Patronus slowly coming out [of their wands]. And it does take a while in the books sometimes, trying to cast it. So I really liked that, even though that’s clearly just because it takes a while for the flame to light.

[Alison and Claire laugh]

Claire: But I liked that, that slowly growing [Patronus]. You know what the shape is going to be, but it just takes a while to confirm that it’s definitely that. And I thought that was really lovely.

Mary: Yeah, the materialization of the Patronus, how that came into being, I agree was neat. I know that when I saw it, it looked a little bit more of that aqua-ish color that was in the films.

Claire: Hmm… Okay.

Mary: I was in the balcony as well, so I don’t know if that was… Chemicals will take on different colors when they’re burnt, so I don’t know if that was part of it.

Alison: Yeah.

Claire: It’s the joy of theater. It’s different every night.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: It’s so great. [laughs]

Claire: But I think it’s fair to say [that] the pièce de résistance was the time travel effect.

Sophie: Yes!

Alison: Oh my gosh, yes.

Claire: I don’t know about you guys, but that was…

Mary: Ooh, yes!

Alison: I’m obsessed with that! [laughs] Does anyone know how they did that?.

Claire: Yes, I was about to say that. [laughs]

Alison: Oh, okay! Good.

Claire: Yeah, so because it happened so many… So I did a theater degree and I have a lot of friends who work in theater. I actually know a couple of people who worked for the production company that made Cursed Child; I don’t know them well, so this is not me name-dropping.

[Alison laughs]

Claire: But in terms of technicalities of theater, if something happens too often, I start working it out. So the first three times it happened in Part 1, I was like, “Argh!” [laughs] When it kept happening in Part 2, I was like, “Okay. Right. I’m going to concentrate on this now and work [it] out.” I concluded and then got it confirmed – and it cost a lot of money – but I think this is where the video design came in, and it’s basically projection mapping.

Alison: Oh my gosh.

Claire: So when you create… You know, you can project onto a building…

Mary: Wow.

Claire: You can just project a flat image. Whereas now – I don’t fully understand it – you can pinpoint it so that it moves in line with the set. So what they obviously would’ve done if they had the set in place – which is all the arches because you’re at Hogwarts at that point – they would’ve created those images as a projection and then bounced it on itself.

Alison: Oh my gosh!

Claire: That’s probably the least technical explanation of it. It was fully video design projection, but it’s really expensive, like, £100,000+ to create that kind of a thing.

Alison: Oh my gosh.

Claire: Yeah.

[Claire and Mary laugh]

Alison: Because I sat there and the closest thing I could come to thinking… I was like, “Okay, it looks like light going through water and the water is moving, but they can control it.” [laughs] I was so confused. I could not figure out how they did that. That is so cool.

Claire: Yeah, that’s why I loved the sort of casual magic. Because when they’re spending that kind of money – or roughly that money, might be more, might’ve been a bit less – on creating a special effect like that… Yes, they used it loads of times, but they could’ve easily just kept it to those kind of things. But the fact [that] they kept it regularly, doing loads of different types of stuff consistently throughout the play, [and] maintain[ing] the magic levels, I think, made it much better. It could have been very easy just to have those one or two big things because they were amazing. I don’t know about you guys’ shows, but people were gasping at it; it was that good. And I think, actually, the sound design also played fairly well into that as well, getting back to that. You’ve got that warmth there. It felt like seeing an Inception shot on screen – that level of quality – which was great.

Alison: Yeah. The first time they did that, I just freaked out a little bit because I was like, “That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen, and I don’t know how they did it!”

[Alison and Claire laugh]

Claire: So clever. Yeah, just absolutely brilliant.

Sophie: Yeah, it was amazing.

Claire: I think also, one of you guys said earlier about the writing on the wall around the theater…

Alison: Oh my gosh! That was…

Claire: My favorite thing about that is [that] I spotted it and I was like, “That looks really strange.” So when I first sat down at the very beginning, I looked up at the panels above me – because I was fortunate enough to be in the stalls – and above my head was one of the big panels with the lights on [it]. And I could see, pale, as if it [were] glue or like a slug or a snail and [how] they leave that trail. I could see that on the wall, and I was like, “That’s really strange.” But I was trying to look at it and I couldn’t work out what it was saying, and then I looked at the other one and I couldn’t see the other one. Then I was looking at the wallpaper and I was like, “I’m fairly sure this theater isn’t painted that color.”

[Alison laughs]

Claire: “I can see H’s in it; this has to be themed.” And [so] I messaged one of my friends that works on the show, “Did this happen? Did you guys paint stuff? I’d love to put this in the review.” And then Part 1 started, the first half of Part 2 ends, and then you see that effect. I’m going, “Now I feel like an idiot.” [laughs] Because clearly, something has been affected.

Alison: I’m just impressed that it was everywhere, because it wasn’t even just on the stage or just at the bottom; it was all the way up on the balcony. I mean, we were…

Claire: Oh, really? Wow.

Mary: It goes all the way up.

Alison: Yeah, I actually looked away from the stage for a while because I was reading the writing on the wall next to me, and yeah, it really brought the audience, I feel, into that moment… just to have everything surrounded by [it], and it’s crazily written. It’s Delphi’s prophecy and it looks like a crazy person wrote it. It’s just scrawled all over the walls, in all sorts of directions, all sorts of sizes… just chunks of it everywhere. It was so brilliant.

Mary: All the little doodles too. There was a Snitch at some point above my head and some other stuff too. Yeah.

Sophie: Oh, I didn’t see all those details.

Alison: I didn’t either.

Sophie: Yeah, it was just everywhere; it was amazing. But it was, again, one of those things [where] you feel like they didn’t need to do that. But they did, and it made a difference because you just feel so in it. Yeah, it’s really effective.

Alison: I didn’t see the Snitch. I was talking to someone about the nest and the wings that formed the Snitch, and they were like, “So how does this come into play?” They had just read the script, and I didn’t see anything that made it come into play. But [it’s] interesting that they would put it in that.

Claire: By this point plot-wise, I was seeing red, so I was like, “That’s a cool effect, but oh my God, I hated this plot point so much!”

[Everyone laughs]

Claire: But yeah, it was great. It was very cleverly done, but I wasn’t feeling immersed; I was feeling furious.

[Alison and Claire laugh]

Claire: But the effect of the lighting, with turning it to… I guess it was UV just the whole way through. The clever way with the magic, but also with the water scene, which we’ve already talked about… you genuinely believed it was underwater. The lighting was beautiful. The change in time, and not just in the time travel but just in months and time going by and years… that threw me, that they were actually going to age everyone.

[Alison laughs]

Claire: I just thought it was… Again, it wasn’t just slapped on; they’ve got good people. You’ve only got to look at the program and look at people’s credits to know that they are well-established. And a lot of them have worked together before, and they’ve got a really good track record. You just know they’ve hired the best people. It looked great and the lighting is so pivotal to that. They clearly did a really, really good job. Which I guess leads us on to staging, which we have been covering, but it’d probably be good to actually call out the movement director, Steven Hoggett, and the director, John Tiffany. I’ll start with movement because the directors obviously have been involved in the story as well. But movement with the cloaks, I think, was probably the best bit.

Alison: Yes.

Claire: That was obviously his pivotal thing of mak[ing] the cloaks look amazing. My general feeling on the movement being great was [that] by the middle of Part 2, it felt like it was padding, and I’ll come to this a little bit later when we talk about whether it needed two parts. But it worked so well for me and it was really very effective in Part 1, and then by Part 2 there was one particular scene where I’m not entirely sure what was happening still. When Rose goes off and is giving letters and showing letters is when they finally come back and everything is fixed, but before the Delphi nonsense, there’s this mad scene where they all just go around, and I still don’t quite know what that was. I think that was padding. But generally, the quality of the movement… Steven Hoggett was probably told when to throw in movement, so what he did was brilliant and really worked well with the pacing and worked well with the music and the feel of the show.

Alison: I think with those cloaks, the thing I loved was [that] it was so perfectly timed with the music. Maybe I was imagining things, [but] there was this swooshing noise every time someone would use the cloaks to move stuff on and off the stage. So for example, [with] Harry’s desk, someone would walk out and swoosh their cloak over it and then walk off with it. And it was so perfectly timed in the music that the first couple times it happened I was like, “Wait, I need to pay attention. Is that part of the music, or is that actually the cloak going on? Or is it a sound effect that’s being thrown out?” So I sat there for a while trying to determine where that was coming from because it just was so cool.

Sophie: I really loved the suitcases all moving. And also… I don’t know if this quite fits into this bit, but the Sorting Hat moving through the crowd was quite good. The way they made it a person, I really liked that.

Alison: I wish his hat had actually looked like the Sorting Hat, though. It was just that bowler hat.

Sophie: Yeah, it didn’t look right.

Alison: I was a little disappointed by that, yeah.

Claire: I loved how they did the Sorting Hat. For me, it was those moments that justified it being a play, doing clever things [like] the Sorting Hat. They could’ve probably spent a lot of money on an animatronic Sorting Hat and done it pretty much like the movie, but I like the fact that it was just… he was there, sort of like a purveyor of time, just moving around very slowly. He was great. I really liked him, actually. [We’ll] talk about him in a bit, but yeah, I just thought it was brilliant theatricality. He had a great voice and it was very simple movement but brilliant. Actually, on him, the introduction of Godric’s Hollow… I can’t remember the actor’s name; I keep saying “him,” which is not good. I’m going to look at the program. But the introduction of Godric’s Hollow where the snow is falling, and he turns around and walks [in] slow motion while all the doors come on, and people bring them on… I thought that was beautiful, just his walking. I could have watched him walk for a long time.

[Alison laughs]

Claire: He was really, very good.

Sophie and Mary: Yeah.

Claire: I’m going to find his name because I feel bad just saying “he.”

Sophie: Yeah, I’d forgotten about that. It’s funny, the moments you forget and things you remember, especially after having read the script.

Claire: I still haven’t done that. I still haven’t read the script.

Sophie: Really?

[Alison laughs]

Claire: No, I haven’t quite gotten around to it. Oh yeah, Chris Jarman is his name… because I just kept saying “him.” He has been in Doctor Who and The Bill because he’s a British actor and every actor was in The Bill at some point.

Alison: [laughs] Of course.

Claire: But yeah, that was “him.”

[Alison laughs]

Sophie: That’s true.

Claire: But also, the direction is an interesting one by John Tiffany, because there was so much going on that probably so many people were involved in lots of different… how the spells were cast, how they were moving across the stage… But obviously, his leadership of that was so neat. For them to be – like you said in the second preview, Sophie – that tight by that stage, that is some bloody great direction. [laughs] And I’ve seen some of John Tiffany’s stuff before, and he is fantastic. He and Steven Hoggett have worked a lot together. One of my favorite pieces of play that I’ve seen that they both worked on was a production called Black Watch by the Scottish National Theatre. It was about the Black Watch Regiment and it’s a pretty good playtext, but the way they staged it and the movement that they did made it ten times better. You can read a very good play and bring it to life, but make it something completely different. Or even mediocre plays can become brilliant under good direction, and I think that’s what John Tiffany did here, original story aside. [laughs]

Alison: Yeah, definitely.

Claire: I think his leadership was clearly very good.

Alison: Well, I definitely think that’s part of it, that he was involved in the story. And I think – because a lot of people are upset about it – there are things not in the script that he was able to bring out through the direction. And that, I think, is what makes it so good on stage, the fact that he can take this and he can spin it and make it so beautiful and everything that happened about it.

Sophie: Yeah.

Mary: And the fact that it was so seamlessly done as well too.

Claire: Yeah, and he brought all those pieces together, I think. Directing a two-part production with that many special effects and visual effects and movement is brilliant.

[Mary laughs]

Sophie: And that big [of] a cast as well… It was huge. Getting all those people to do everything was definitely quite remarkable.

Claire: Yeah. That’s got to be one of the biggest casts I’ve seen outside of musical theater. That was pretty sizable.

Sophie: And even they were doubling up on characters. [laughs]

Alison: Yeah. [laughs]

Claire: Pretty brilliant.

Sophie: Definitely.

Claire: What was also brilliant were the casting and performances…

Alison: Yes!

Claire: Some of them.

Sophie: Yes. [laughs]

Claire: I’m going to go backward, so I’m going to leave the big ones until the end. Because I feel like we’re going to go for a while on them because…

[Alison laughs]

Claire: Yep, we’re going to leave them until the end. So let’s start with the multi-roling ensemble and then we’ll work up to the minor roles and go from there. My general opinion was in their multi-role ensemble duty, they were brilliant and they worked very well together and the movement, as we’ve said, was fantastic. Performances, for me, didn’t hit the note, and this is a general issue with the plot. If you’re ever going to go back in nostalgia and revisit characters like Dumbledore – even if he’s in portrait form – and McGonagall and Umbridge and Snape, when you can’t… because they’re multi-roling and they’re bit parts. You can’t cast brilliant actors because you’re trying to find… This is really terrible, but if an actor is in their mid-40s and they’re only necessarily doing ensemble parts, they’re not going to be of the caliber of Noma [Dumenzweni] and Jamie [Parker] and Paul [Thornley], who are all very well-established theater actors who have been doing very high profile theater work for a while. And then [when] you’re getting them to play the character of Professor McGonagall, who was previously played by Dame Maggie Smith, it’s just not going to chime. And I don’t know how that worked for you guys, but every time McGonagall walked on, I wanted to cry. It was just so wrong. Dumbledore was terrible.

Alison: I wonder, though…

Claire: Snape was diabolical! Yeah.

Alison: Oh my gosh, yeah, Snape was bad.

[Claire laughs]

Alison: But I wonder how much of that was in the writing, because rereading it, I was like, “Oh, yeah.” The characters are off in the writing. McGonagall yelling at the trio in public and saying they were neglecting their children… that is not McGonagall at all. Those were the things that felt so wrong to me. Snape was far too apologist for my tastes. It did not feel like what Snape would have done at all. But I definitely see where you’re going. I think my biggest one acting-wise was Snape. He just felt so flat in his delivery.

Sophie: Yeah. I think it was hard because they’re characters people weren’t necessarily expecting to see, so there were lots of gasps when they appeared. But yeah, it’s hard to carry off such a well-loved character, I guess, in that way, like you were saying.

Claire: Yeah, I think it’s not so much well-loved; it’s also just… you’ve just got such good comparisons.

Sophie: Well, yeah.

Claire: You’ve got some of the best British theater actors.

Alison: Yeah.

Claire: Okay, so this is a mild name drop. I was sat behind Michael Gambon in the production that I went to see, and when Dumbledore came on – I think he was with his grandson, [but I’m] not sure – they nudged him and were like, “It’s you!” And, like or loathe Michael Gambon as Dumbledore, having that right in front of me, slightly blocking my view…

[Alison laughs]

Claire: … a good actor who played this character you’re seeing on stage, is just so lackluster. Dumbledore was just off for me as well, as much as Snape. And I think you’re probably right, Alison, about the writing. McGonagall wasn’t great writing, but also, I think [the] performance was pretty weak. Moving away from negatives in terms of smaller parts: As I said, Chris Jarman, I thought, was brilliant. I loved his Hagrid. I thought he was great.

Alison: Yes! Yes.

Claire: Occasionally his accent wobbled, but that was okay.

Mary: Hagrid was wonderful.

Claire: So lovely. And actually, I loved that end bit.

Alison: Oh, I cried.

Claire: It was so beautiful. And to write that scene in, because it was quite… we don’t know [what] happened, but we know [that scene] had to happen in some way, but we’ve never seen that before. And I thought that was beautiful.

Alison: I cried. I mean, I was still crying from the scene before it, but I was just crying even more.

[Alison and Mary laugh]

Alison: That line where he just says, “We’re going to be friends…” I was just like, “Okay, I’m done.” I was emotionally compromised.

[Alison and Sophie laugh]

Claire: [as Hagrid] “We’re going to be friends, whether yeh like it or not…”

Mary: Yep.

Claire: It’s like… yeah, Hagrid.

[Alison and Claire laugh]

Claire: Awesome. And I loved Moaning Myrtle; I thought she was fantastic. She was clearly a dancer.

Alison: Yes.

Claire: Just her movement on that wheely thing. I liked how they really ramped up the flirting, which I thought worked. It was funny. She played off so well with the younger boys, but also then when Draco and Harry turned up. I just thought she was brilliant, really funny, and well written. I thought that character worked for me a lot.

Sophie: Yeah, she was really good.

Mary: I also thought that she had really watched the scenes with Shirley Henderson from the original films and had really gotten down a lot of her mannerisms as well, and taken those. I don’t know the actress who played Myrtle in the play’s name; I don’t have my program with me right now. But she had obviously adopted so many of those mannerisms that Shirley had had in the films, especially with the whole flirtation thing. I feel like it was very Goblet of Fire in the bathtub.

Alison: Yeah. [laughs]

Claire: She’s called Annabelle Baldwin.

Alison: I thought she was great. She was a surprise. [I] was not expecting Myrtle to show up, and that was just a nice little… That was one of those drop-ins that I really appreciated.

Claire: Those callbacks worked. And also, she’s young. She [doesn’t have] many credits; she probably only recently came out of training. This is the benefit of getting throwbacks to younger characters; you can get decent actors who are happy to be in the ensemble because they’re like, “Sure, it’s my first big show!” And that’s where you benefit from having younger nods, as opposed to the big, big ones. I’m trying to think of the other minor characters that really stood out. Did you guys have any ones [that] you wanted to pinpoint? I didn’t think much of the Rose Potter that I saw. She was all right; she was fine. Just another little… Not Rose Potter; what am I talking about? Don’t worry, because Rose was great. Oh my God. Lily Potter.

[Alison, Mary, and Sophie laugh]

Claire: I thought she was fine. We obviously probably all saw different Lilys, but I did thoroughly enjoy James Potter.

Alison: Oh, he was exactly how I thought James Potter should be. He was a new Marauder, and it was fantastic. That scene where he comes out with the…

Mary: The pink hair.

Alison: … with his hair turned pink?

[Claire laughs]

Alison: Fabulous. Absolutely fantastic. I absolutely loved him.

Sophie: Yeah, he was really good.

Claire: You entirely believe that he’s Harry’s son, but he’s also Ginny’s son and related to George and Ron Weasley. You can just see that kid has grown up with all these adults’ influence and probably hearing stories about the Marauders and stuff, and he just adopted that. Yeah, he was really good fun. Something I think we’re going to be slightly torn on is Ginny. Of the main trio, the main group, I wasn’t a massive fan and I think that was 50% performance and 50% writing. I think, once again, no one can write Ginny apart from J.K. Rowling. I didn’t believe any of the stuff about Ginny being on a sugar-free diet and all of that nonsense.

Alison: Yeah, that was weird.

Sophie: Definitely didn’t work.

Claire: There were lovely moments between her and Harry, but for me, Jamie Parker was just so bloody brilliant that he convinced me that she was all right. But there was no moment for me where she was having her standout lines that it worked for me.

Alison: I thought she was great.

Mary: I mean, there was no moment of awesome, really, with Ginny, and I think that was one of the things… I know one of the criticisms for film Ginny was that she was so flat, and I feel like that carried over into Cursed Child Ginny, whereas book Ginny was very feisty.

Alison: I’m so interested that you guys say that because I definitely saw that feistiness and I was so excited. I mean, some of this was probably Jamie Parker; I thought they had the Harry and Ginny relationship perfect. And just those moments where she was comforting him, or even the ones where she was getting after him about “This is what you need to say to Albus” or “Why are you doing this, Harry? You’re being stupid.” Those were fantastic. I mean, when she breaks up the duel between Draco and Harry, I thought that was book Ginny. But I think my favorite thing she did was… I loved the way she related to Albus. That scene where they first show up in Godric’s Hollow and Albus sees her and he just sprints right into her arms, I loved that. I loved those scenes in Godric’s Hollow with them. After reading the script, I noticed she added [something]. When they’re in the church and Albus is asleep on the pew – at least in my show – she was playing with his hair, like you would with a kid. She was just stroking his hair and helping him get to sleep. And that was beautiful to me, that she really got that idea of… She’s herself but also, you saw the Molly in Ginny that, I think, would make sense to have come out a little bit later than we would have seen [with] her in the books.

Claire: Yeah, I like that. You haven’t got me 100% convinced, but…

[Alison laughs]

Claire: I can buy that she’s becoming more of her mom. I think the moments where they were showing feisty Ginny didn’t fall flat – kind of the opposite – they were just a bit odd. That moment where she shouts at Malfoy… I don’t know if it was my performance, but it just did not work for me. It was weird stage shouting.

Alison: Oh, really?

Claire: It was so off.

Mary: I agree. Some of her line delivery, I felt, was just off from how I had read it, and I don’t know if it was the difference between my accent being American and hers being whatever British accent that I couldn’t quite place. I felt like her accent was off, and I noticed some of the other actors did have to modify their accents for the roles. I don’t know. I’m not in British theater, obviously, but from that standpoint – line delivery and that kind of thing – I felt like it was strange.

Claire: Yeah, that’s definitely what I got from her. I hadn’t thought of the accent, actually. I’m not sure where the actress is from. What did you think, Soph?

Sophie: Yeah, I’m with Alison. I liked her.

[Alison and Sophie laugh]

Sophie: There were some moments, thinking about them, [that] did seem a bit off or not right, but yeah, I liked her portrayal of Ginny. Obviously, it’s not as good as book Ginny, but then I guess this is them older and grown up, [so] yeah, they will have changed. Yeah, I think she worked, and I’m definitely not saying any more. [laughs]

Alison: Yeah. I think you bring up a good point, though, Claire. Because it’s live theater, it’s different every night. Every performance is going to have slight changes, and I wonder because they’re doing so much… I mean, in total, this is a five-hour play. And sometimes there are days where they do the whole thing, and so I wonder… I’m very curious about the longevity of some of these things. Because I just feel like that would be exhausting, to be rehearsing and performing so much at such a caliber for so long. And so I wonder if that affects it sometimes. I mean, obviously, it does. Having done theater, I know if you’re tired, it sucks to try and be onstage. [laughs]

Claire: Yeah, the day that I went to see it, I think they were having an off day. They were brilliant, the performances – the ones I thought were good were good – but it’s one of those things, I think… Again, if you’ve done theater or if you’ve just been in a room for five and a half hours… There were just little things like lines [that] were just very slightly fluffed, and a pen was dropped. Minor, minor issues that did not ruin the experience of the show, but that can affect a cast, and I think if there was something that was a bit wobbly, the delivery might not have been as on-point as maybe they’d been the night before. I know I saw it, I think, the first double day since the gala opening, [and] they were probably still hanging from that, to be honest. It looked like such a cool party.

Alison: Yeah. [laughs]

Claire: So I think probably there was an element of tiredness [and] fatigue. But despite the fatigue, some of them were astonishingly lively and bloody brilliant. I realize I got her name wrong earlier, but Rose was great.

Alison: Oh, she was so good.

Claire: I am slightly gutted that the time travel nonsense meant we didn’t get much of her. Because even though she was a bit bossy and a pain sometimes, I just thought she was great. Just [a] really, really brilliant new character [whom] I want to see more from. Although, dare I say that? Because we probably shouldn’t want more.

[Everyone laughs]

Claire: But yeah, she was fantastic.

Alison: She was the perfect blend of Ron and Hermione.

Claire: And just so slightly unaware of herself. We all know people like that who are just a bit too overconfident, but she’ll reign it in. And she’s got the confidence and intelligence of Hermione but the casualness of the Weasleys… maybe not so much Ron, but probably George Weasley. She’s not wracked with quite so many insecurities as Hermione was, which… yeah, she was just so wonderful. I’d like the whole Hermione… well, actually, we’ll come to Hermione in a second. Talk about the kids… Albus was good. I know, Alison, you’re a bit more of a fan.

Alison: Yeah. [laughs]

Claire: I thought he was good, but I’ll let you go. Yeah, you go.

Alison: I just thought he was brilliant. I mean, Sam Clemmett just isn’t quite as exuberant as Anthony Boyle is, but I thought he just nailed [it]. Because reading the script, you could get [that] Albus could just be a brat, or he could just be too angsty. But he very much nailed the nuance that was needed to show that Albus is having an identity crisis throughout this whole thing. And he’s trying to just figure out where he fits and everything. I mean, the scene where they’re watching Halloween 1981 – which, by the way, is one of my favorite scenes in the whole thing, and I was bawling my eyes out the whole time and I do not cry openly very easily – the way he just visibly jerked was absolutely heart-wrenching. It just hurt to watch him. He just nailed all these tiny little things he needed to get to be this character and to make this character so complex and as complex as he needed to be to really come out and just show… Yeah, I just thought he was brilliant. I thought he was so good. I just love him. [laughs]

Sophie: I agree. I loved him too.

Mary: That awkwardness, too, of adolescence… When you were talking about his angst and whatever and how he had to toe that line, I feel like there were definitely some areas where he could have gotten a bit more, dare I say, emo in his behavior.

[Alison laughs]

Mary: But onstage, it came across very naturally: “Here’s this teenage boy having a fight with his dad.” It felt very normal [and] very relatable.

Claire: Oh gosh, his scene with Harry… that argument they had where he said, “Well, I wish you weren’t my dad.” I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve had those kind of arguments with my parents.

Alison: Yep. [laughs]

Claire: And that was probably the most realistic, believable moment for me in the entire show. The magic was spectacular, but those human moments between Harry and Albus were brilliant, and that scene particularly was really, really fantastic. I think that was my highlight from Sam. That’s where he, for me, stood out the most, whereas Anthony Boyle as Scorpius stood out the entire way through the play. He was so good! [laughs]

Alison: He was brilliant.

Sophie: He was fantastic.

Claire: Considering he doesn’t have bright blond hair and he has quite a strong Irish accent, he must have nailed that audition for them to be like, “Oh yeah, of course he’s a Malfoy.” Because he doesn’t look or sound like anything we’d ever expect from a Malfoy, so you have to go… because Albus looks the part; Sam looks like Harry Potter and sounds a bit like him, and you can make that work. Whereas I don’t know what… Maybe he might have auditioned for Albus, because he could also be Albus with his hair color and things. But yeah, his delivery of certain lines… I’m going to save my favorite one for our highlights at the end, but the one where he’s like, “Malfoy the Unanxious is a pretty good liar…”

Alison: Oh my gosh! I love that scene. I love that scene!

Sophie: Definitely one of my highlights.

Alison: Sophie and I have been talking about that scene for a month and a half.

[Alison and Sophie laugh]

Alison: Just because… I love [that] he’s so enthusiastic about everything. And I was talking to some people… I was actually talking to Michael from Alohomora! and he said he felt too much like a fan inserted… Scorpius was us. And I was like, “Yes.” And Michael also said he felt a little too perfect in the script, and I think it’s a nuance thing again where Anthony Boyle just perfectly portrays… He’s trying so hard but he’s so insecure in himself, and it’s just those little things and it was absolutely brilliant. I think it just really made that character pop and oh, I loved him. I just fell in love with him from the moment he jumped up to offer them sweets on the train.

[Everyone laughs]

Mary: “Squee! My geekness is a-quivering.”

Alison: Oh my goodness.

Claire: Yeah. I think also, when he essentially becomes the lead of the show when he’s escorted off to time travel and Albus isn’t there, his struggle with his identity during that again – plot and dialogue aside – where he’s realizing that he has everything in that moment. He could be the popular this, this, and this. And Scorpius is fighting that, I think, again.

Sophie: He goes back for Albus.

Alison: I know. It’s so cute! [pretends to sob]

Claire: I know. And ships aside, whether people want to go there, I thought that friendship was beautiful and lovely. I love the fact that they both have heard about… well, Albus has heard about his parents’ friendships, and Scorpius has probably heard about the trio, and they’re both thinking, “I want that friendship.” Oh, they’re just adorable. It worked so well onstage. I haven’t read it, so I don’t actually know what it feels like on the page, but onstage it worked brilliantly.

Alison: You could definitely tell that the two of them are actually friends too. I think that really came across. I definitely got that feeling, that they’ve become friends throughout this, and they just infused that into their characters, and it was brilliant.

Claire: Speaking of the Malfoys, I thought… I think his name is Alex Price? Is that right? I’m just going to consult the program again. I thought he was great. He has now ticked off pretty much every fandom, going, “Doctor Who, Being Human…” He just needs to get Star Wars in there; he’d be sorted.

[Alison laughs]

Claire: I thought he was really good. I thought the way they wrote Malfoy was one of the most interesting characters because he could have so easily have been a non-part in this. And I loved all the reveals. So obviously, Alohomora! will discuss more on canon and not canon, but I will buy pretty much everything Malfoy says, with exception of the farmer’s market nonsense.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: That was weird.

Claire: That was so weird.

Alison: And the Hermione bossing him around line. Didn’t need that.

Claire: That was such fan service, it was ridiculous. His thing about being jealous of Harry, obviously! Of course he was! And I loved that; that sort of moment really worked for me, and I think he sold it brilliantly.

Alison: He did. I have never been a Draco fan, really. I think he’s a little brat. But [Alex Price] helped sell me a little bit more on Draco, and I softened a little bit toward him because of that performance and the way you could see the hard exterior that we’ve known from Malfoy from the books, and then the moments where it crumpled, the moments where he was so concerned about Scorpius. The moments that really hit me were when he was talking about Astoria.

Claire: Yeah, really good.

Alison: The way he delivered those [lines] was brilliant.

Claire: And I really liked his relationship with Harry.

Alison: Really?

Claire: I thought they have such a connection through everything they’ve experienced, that I believed that he would… I can’t really put words to it, but there is something between them that they’ll never be best friends…

Mary: Reconciliation.

Claire: Yeah, but just the connection between them, I think there’s a need there. And I don’t quite know what it is. I think it’s definitely more from Draco’s perspective than Harry’s. But they experience so much, and they both went through quite a lot. And I think Draco is the only one who is going to understand, for Harry, Voldemort’s impact – more than, I think, Ron and Hermione did – of what it’s like to be connected or abused by Voldemort. I just believed it all. I thought he sold it, and I thought it was written very well.

Alison: See, I had a little bit of a problem with the way they played it. I think they needed to be a little bit colder toward each other. I think they needed to be cordial and professional, but there were times when I was like, “You’re too chummy. You’re acting too much like you’re friends.” Whereas I feel like there [are] still some resentments from both of them from when they were growing up that would be a little harder to put aside.

Claire: Hmm. But there’s so much… It’s been 19 years. Maybe they didn’t see each other for four or five, but if they’re both intertwining in and out of the Ministry… and I’m sure Jo has written this up somewhere, but the Malfoys get off, right? So they don’t get put into prison after the Second Wizarding War. So Malfoy – or Draco – must have done something as part of that. I think Harry would be implicit in some way of redeeming him. I don’t quite know how; I don’t know if she’s written this down or not. But I think they interact on a daily basis already. So I felt like it was picking up from stuff we haven’t seen, which worked for me.

Alison: Okay. I can see that.

Mary: On a separate note, I think one of the things that stood out for me with Draco was in the one alternate universe where Scorpius goes into the office, and it’s no longer Harry’s office. It’s Draco’s. And it’s sort of how Albus and Harry have their scene, and then Scorpius and Draco have theirs, and it really reminded me of watching Lucius and Draco. And I pretty much cried during that, just because it was so emotionally powerful to see that and to see, okay, here’s Draco as an adult with his own son, wrapping my mind around that.

Claire: But also, that line where Harry says, “I’m trying to work this out here, listening to Albus. I don’t know how to be a dad. Even if I have nothing to base it on, I don’t even have a bad dad to try not to be.” And I think that’s what Draco is trying. He’s trying not to be his own dad. Because again, at least in Chamber of Secrets, Lucius was horrible to Draco. He was maybe loving on some level, but he wasn’t nice to him. And I think Malfoy – Draco in this – is really trying very hard to be the parent that he wanted to be to his son. But there [are] obviously issues that come with that, and he’s not so good at maybe pouring out the emotion. Unless it’s Moaning Myrtle; then he’s very good.

[Alison laughs]

Claire: But yeah. I really liked the line when Draco says, “Everyone says being a parent is the hardest job, but I think it’s growing up and we’ve all forgotten,” or something along those lines. I think that is a brilliant line.

Sophie: Yeah, that was really good.

Claire: And it was a brilliant line that was probably put in there by… I don’t know if John Tiffany or Jack Thorne have kids, but I imagine that was something that J.K. Rowling might have thrown in there. But I believe it coming from him as well. I think any of the trio could have said that line, with the exception of maybe Ron. But I believe it becoming from Jacob. Draco. Where’d I get Jacob from?

[Everyone laughs]

Claire: From Draco instead. Should we move on to the trio? The wonderful, perfect trio?

Mary and Sophie: Yes.

Alison: Yes! I love them!

Mary: Oh my God, the trio.

Sophie: They’re perfect, the trio.

Alison: I think they’re my new go-to thinking of the trio, actually.

Mary: Yeah, I have to agree with that absolutely, especially Noma as Hermione. Oh my gosh.

Alison: Yes. She was absolutely brilliant. The moment she walked on stage, I was like, “Yes! Right there! That is Hermione Jean Granger, and I love her.” [laughs] It was so brilliant.

Claire: I loved her relationship with Ron. I know people have complained about Ron’s character being comed[ic], but I think Paul Thornley sold that and I think he performed it very well. And their relationship was just… I love the idea that after seven years of just fighting with each other, they actually are a really tactile couple. We were talking earlier about whether Ginny and Harry’s relationship worked, and I think it did work on stage, but they weren’t particularly tactile. In private moments they were, but in public I love that Ron and Hermione were a little bit all over each other.

Alison: Yes!

Claire: And obviously, there’s the bit where it’s not actually Ron…

[Alison laughs]

Claire: … but there are the bits where they are just hugging each other and holding each other’s hands. I’m like, “Oh God, it’s so much! This is wonderful.”

Alison: One of my favorite press pictures to come out is that picture they have of the two of them. He’s resting his chin on her shoulder and he has his arms around her waist, and they’re just cuddled up together. I was like, “That is so perfect! I love it!”

Claire: So perfect.

Alison: Especially that most of it’s coming from Ron, I think is perfect.

Claire: Yeah.

Alison: He’s that kind of person, very affectionate in that way, and that made me so happy.

Mary: “Well, a holiday or a baby!”

[Claire laughs]

Alison: Oh my gosh.

Claire: That one I love because obviously that scene is not him, I think. Is it him? No, that’s the Polyjuice bit.

Alison: No, it’s Albus.

Claire: Yeah, it’s Albus. Albus has got to pick that up from somewhere. He’s heard Ron saying something like, “I need a holiday,” or some reference to having more children. He’s picked that up. And that, again, just adds more to the character of what they’ve created for Ron, and I did like him. The whole thing about him being a comic sidekick again… while we want to see more from Ron, the reason I liked it is because a) I believed that he’d be running the joke shop with George. I believed that he’s not cut out for the Ministry, as much as we love him. And I love [that] he’s the stay-at-home dad and he’s the home-runner. But it also gave so much opportunity for Hermione and Harry’s relationship to really consolidate because obviously there are the shippers and there are moments in this series you can pick and be like, “Okay, maybe they could be a couple.” But by this point, after this amount of time, this is just a really close, tight, solid friendship, and seeing that on stage just was beautiful.

Sophie: Yeah, I really liked the scene when they were in Hermione’s and Harry’s office and he comes in and she’s sort of telling him to do all this paperwork.

Alison: Yeah. [laughs]

Sophie: I thought that just got their relationship perfect.

Claire: Yeah, he flicked his wand and it’s done.

Alison: Yeah, the way they both played it, where Hermione is standing very much proper and Harry comes in and just throws his feet up on his desk and is just lounging in his chair and is like, “What? I have to do work? What?”

[Alison and Sophie laugh]

Claire: While I loved Noma and Paul – and I do think they were absolutely superb – for me, Jamie Parker was the standout for Harry.

Alison: Yes.

Sophie: Definitely.

Claire: Before they announced the casting, I was so adverse to the show, purely because… not so much Hermione and Ron, but for some reason – I don’t quite know why – in the last couple of years, I’ve become very protective of Harry. I was like, “I can’t see Harry on stage. I can’t see anyone else as Harry. I just can’t do this.” And then they announced Jamie Parker, [whom] I love, and I’ve seen him in a lot of other work on stage and off, and I think he’s a fantastic actor. And when they announced him, even though he had blond hair and there wasn’t a single pair of glasses in sight, it just clicked. I was like, “Of course, he is going to be the perfect Harry.” When he walks on, I 100% believed he was Harry 19 years later. I believed he had gone through everything that Harry had gone through, and the struggle to be a parent was very believable. And I think Jamie Parker is a dad, so [that’s] probably stuff he was relating to, his worries and his stress and him trying to stay calm, but you seeing the tension… because Harry is a reactive person and he’s a passionate person, but he doesn’t always get it 100% right, especially with his anger. He does let his anger overflow. And I don’t believe that would have just stopped because he’s had such a traumatic childhood and teenage years. It would still very much affect him 20-odd years later. There were so many scenes. Reading the books, even when I was younger and Harry’s age, there were so many times when you just want to give Harry a hug. And there were times in this show where I was like, “Jamie Parker, it’s okay!”

[Claire and Alison laugh]

Alison: Definitely. I think one of the best things he did was he nailed Harry’s awkwardness. Harry is such an awkward person in the books, and there were so many scenes where it was just the way he was standing. He stands with his hands in his pants pockets a lot, and I was like, “That’s Harry, right there,” just awkward [and] not quite sure what he should do with himself. And so he’s just kind of there, especially in the “I want a baby or a holiday” scene where he’s just off on the stage and he’s like, “Okay, I’m going to go.” And he just starts moving his way off. Even the scenes with Albus, I think part of the things that really helped were just his body language that was just saying, “I’m not quite sure what I’m doing. I’m trying. I know I need to try something, but I’m not quite sure what to try.” That and then the scene where he talks to Dumbledore’s portrait and just breaks down in the office, I was crying the whole time.

Claire: I think that for me, actually, that scene was when I clocked that I thought they were having an off night because I should have been crying at that point; I weep at anything. Jamie Parker was just doing random little looks and I was crying in Part 1, but that scene for me didn’t work on an emotional level, and I think that was just an off night, [an] off performance. He wasn’t fully in it, but he was still very good. But I think there’s the acting and then there’s being and all that wonky stuff. But yeah, in terms of the awkwardness… you say about a scene with Ron and Hermione… I love the fact – and I think this is totally believable – that even though they’re still a trio and they’re still a unit and they’ve been together a long time, I think that Harry would still find the Hermione/Ron thing slightly awkward. [laughs]

Alison: It’s Half-Blood Prince. It’s his thoughts in Half-Blood Prince exactly. It’s hilarious.

Claire: It’s still just a bit like, “Oh God, they’re there. They’re doing this again.” I think he would still have that level of “Oh God,” which just works superbly. And in his moments with Ginny, like I said before, he sold Ginny for me because when he called her “Gin,” I just thought that was so cute.

Alison: Aww.

Claire: And again, certainly believable.

Sophie: Yeah. Aww.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: They were so precious!

Claire: I just keep looking at pictures of them and just being like, “I love them so much!”

Alison: I know!

Claire: It’s going to be weird when they recast it.

Sophie: I want to see it again.

[Claire laughs]

Alison and Claire: Yeah.

Claire: I had bought my initial tickets for February, and I’m curious to know whether they’ll have recast by then because I think some of the ensemble parts will have gone.

Mary: Oh gosh, that’s going to be sad.

Sophie: I know. I don’t want to see it with different people.

Alison: I don’t either! [laughs] As much as I want to see it again, I want that cast because they were so perfect. They brought those characters and that world perfectly to life.

Claire: Yeah, I’m hoping that they… I think the leads might still… I think they might have signed a [one-]year contract. I just feel like they were so much part of the marketing campaign. I feel like they’re going to try to keep them for as long as they can. But the type of actors they are, they probably don’t want to stay in it as long as they can because they will probably have plenty of other things to be doing. I really hope when I see it, Anthony Boyle is in it.

[Everyone laughs]

Claire: I just need his delivery of those lines so badly.

Alison: I wonder if any of them will travel because eventually it’ll come to New York, I’m sure. I wonder if any of them will go to New York or anything.

Claire: I hope so. As much as I’d love them to stay in London forever and ever, I do hope… Because those performances are so intrinsic to why the show does work on that level. Though I loathe the plot, they really sell it to you. I think it’s a shame if only London[ers], or people who are able to visit London, are able to see those performances. And it’s why I really, really hope they record it. I don’t know if they will or not. But I think the thing that would stop them is if they record it and then put it on in cinemas in America, would people then go and see it on Broadway? They probably would, especially if they only did one screening and no encores.

Alison: Yeah, it’s a different experience.

Claire: Yeah. I don’t see why they wouldn’t record it. If they don’t, it’s probably a rights thing. Maybe it’s true. I have seen a couple of shows – I’ve seen quite a lot of the [National Theater] live screenings – but I think the National Theater is a lot easier to film… With that straight-on proscenium arch, I think it could be quite tricky, but the way they direct those [National Theater] live screenings is pretty extraordinary. I’m sure they’d make it work; I’m sure it’d be absolutely fine. If they could do that magnificent time travel effect, they can record it.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: Yeah, I wouldn’t mind Sam Clemmett being a little bit closer to me.

[Everyone laughs]

Claire: They’re all disappointingly short.

Alison: I know!

Claire: I went around the stage door, and I bumped into a couple of people that I knew from the Harry Potter circuit. It’s ridiculous; you go to some of these events and you start recognizing everyone.

[Alison laughs]

Claire: And I ended up near the front – not entirely sure how – and they were all coming out and signing stuff. I didn’t get Jamie Parker, so I might have to go back.

Alison: Aww!

Claire: And it was astonishing how small Anthony Boyle was.

Alison: I know!

Claire: Really tiny. [laughs]

Alison: Well… I think I thought he was 14, actually.

[Everyone laughs]

Alison: So I was so upset, and I was like, “Dang it!” And then I found out he was 22, and I was like, “I should have gone to the stage door. I should have done it, and I didn’t do it!” And then I found out he was at least two inches shorter than me, and I was disappointed again. It’s fine. Let’s just be friends.

[Everyone laughs]

Claire: So good.

Mary: Dashing Alison’s hopes and dreams.

Alison: Yeah, all of them. Well, hopes and dreams… let’s talk about the story just briefly because we’re going to get into this on our main episodes of Alohomora!, but is this story all of our hopes and dreams? Did the premise work? Thoughts?

Claire: Mary, do you want to go first?

Mary: All right. So I would have to say the two-part thing was a little bit strange. For one thing, the two-part thing is relatively uncommon for theater, to have it structured the way that Cursed Child is structured. I feel like seeing it all on the same day really helped. I know, Sophie, you had said that you had seen Part 1 and then Part 2 separately, so I would be curious to know your thoughts on this as well. But just in terms of how ridiculously long it was, I felt like there were some things they probably could have cut down for the sake of brevity.

Claire: Yeah, that’s pretty much my exact thoughts on it. The time travel I will buy for the sake of nostalgia, and it works. I can understand why, for theater reasons, they have to do flashbacks and bring in characters you know, because they can’t sell this show out for years and years and years just on people who know the books inside out, as much as we would love to think they can. There are people like my mum, who was trying to get tickets. She’s seen two of the films and been to the Studio Tour once. People need to get it.

[Alison laughs]

Claire: So I bought the time travel as fine. I did not and will not on any level get on board [with] the Delphi character, and as a result, and because the second half was a bit shorter – Part 2 isn’t that long – and because there were a lot of movement scenes… so many movement scenes in that second part… I think they could have scrapped [the] Delphi plot line [and] still had all the time travel. Because ultimately, the whole having an evil thingy is just not needed because it’s about Harry’s demons, it’s about Albus’s demons, [and] it’s about them struggling with that past. I think that was enough. I don’t think you need an evil baddie to come along. I think they could have scrapped that or condensed it.

Alison: I think you need someone to kick that off because I feel like… so I do hate Delphi’s parentage. They should have done it better. I think [Delphi] herself as a character intrigued me a lot because she felt a little Barty Crouch, Jr. to me, which I think was a character that makes for a good antagonist that dredges up these things that should have been left in the past. And so she herself didn’t really bother me, but I see where you’re coming from with some of that.

Claire: I feel like I genuinely had forgotten about her by the time Part 2 started. When she first appeared, I was like, “I’ve seen this character onstage – on the British theater stage – so many times.” She is Scaramouche from We Will Rock You. She’s every sodding “cool, alternative girl” on the stage, with the streak of hair, the boots… I’ve seen that character so much. I was like, “Yawn, we’ve got one of them. Oh, she’s going to be a love interest, right?” And then she went [away]. I was like, “Great,” and I completely forgot about her. And then when [she] came back? I just think for me as well the actor didn’t work for me, and I would say that’s mainly the script and the plot. I don’t want to put it all on her. But they did spend a lot of time working on this plot, [and] I think they could have found a way to do the time travel without that. And I think dredging Cedric Diggory up really upset me. I was like, “Leave him to be!”

Alison: [laughs] Leave Cedric alone!

Claire: Yeah, I thought that was very odd. I think for me, it could have worked as one show. I love seeing more than one play in a day. I went and camped out at the National Theater a couple years ago to see all three of the James plays from the National Theater of Scotland, and the [unintelligible] shows, I saw both in one day and loved it. But what worked for all of those is that they are separate shows that can be seen in isolation, or you can see them all in one go, or you can mix and match. They work in order and they are better in order and you get the full experience, but you could see them individually. And that’s what I was hoping from this. I was hoping it’d be two separate shows, but it’d be better to see them together. Part 1 makes more sense than Part 2; I didn’t want a cliffhanger. And I don’t know what they did for you, Sophie; I imagine they had a curtain call. But if you saw it in one day, they didn’t have a curtain call in the middle, and they just had a screen come down: “To be continued.”

Sophie: No, they didn’t. They just left!

Alison: Oh, really? Oh my gosh!

Sophie: They just left, no bows or anything. They just left. And we were like, “Oh, is that it?” It was a very weird way. I’ve never left a theater with them not doing a curtain call. So yeah, it was weird.

Alison: That is bizarre. That’s so strange!

Sophie: Especially [since it was] three days. I quite liked having that much time to let it all sink in. But yeah, that was weird, the curtain call thing.

Alison: I still don’t know how you did it without dying at that cliffhanger, though, because three hours was bad enough.

Sophie: I walked back to the train station, just sort of like, “What was that?” [laughs] It was very [strange]. But it did mean I had a lot of time to think about it and process my thoughts a bit more, I guess. I can imagine it was quite intense in one day, but it definitely meant I thought of them as two quite separate things. So Part 2 felt very different to Part 1; Part 1 was definitely stronger, I think. And the best moments of the whole thing were… because once that storyline got ridiculous… I liked bits of it, but… [laughs] The best moments were the little moments between Harry and Albus, or Albus and Scorpius, just the little things that worked really well, I thought. Yeah, I thought it was quite interesting, the divide between the two bits.

Alison: Speaking of moments, then, let’s talk about our favorite moment as we start wrapping this up a little bit. Mine, I chose one that was very, I think, based on production, because in the script it’s a throwaway thing. They’re in Godric’s Hollow and it’s when Lily comes out with Harry in the pram and is tucking him in with the blanket. And she and Albus see each other and in the script it’s just like, “They look at each other and she walks away.” But there was so much going on on that stage. To describe it, they stop. They both just stop and stare at each other. First of all, you see Lily almost recognize Albus, in a way, because obviously he looks a bit like James – older James, I guess – this Lily Potter’s husband. And I just thought it was this beautiful moment where you see her recognize him, and you see Albus finally understanding where he fits into the scheme of things, in a lot of ways, as he looks at, “Oh, this is my grandmother who I never knew; I just heard about her. She’s become this legend. That’s my dad as a baby.” It was just such a beautiful moment, and so much of that nuance that I think really makes Albus such a great character as he finds himself. So that was one of my favorites. I think production-wise, that was my favorite.

Claire: That’s such a heavy, beautiful moment. Mine are all just like, “It was pretty!”

[Everyone laughs]

Claire: For me, [it was] that immediate moment where you suddenly get whipped into the wizarding world, which is the jackets becoming capes. It was just simple theatricality that I loved. Time travel, I’ve raved on about as much as I can. Storylines aside, that and the projections were just brilliant. And Mary has already said it, but Scorpius’s line, “My geekness is a-quivering,” I need that as a GIF. If they don’t record it, can they just please record Anthony Boyle delivering that line? Because it was just… it’s the squeak before it as well; it’s just brilliant. It had me cracking up, and it’s one of those scenes like that and moments that I’ve just been playing over and over. I want to see that bit again. I don’t want to see the rest that happened before it, but [just] that bit.

[Everyone laughs]

Sophie: That was a really good moment. Yeah, I think for me I have lots of favorite little moments, like that line and things. But the one that came to mind straightaway was the Polyjuice moment scene, just from the moment of him taking it and then into the Ministry. That was definitely a highlight. I also really liked Albus and Scorpius meeting on the train and the hype that Rose has put onto the meeting, and then them meeting each other and just thinking, “Yeah, we’re going to be friends.” I thought that was really nice. It set up the whole thing nicely.

Mary: I have to echo what Sophie just said about the Polyjuice. I think the Polyjuice was exceptionally well done, not only in the special effects in terms of what we had talked about earlier, but also in the trio actors’ ability to pick up the… I guess “the kids trio,” if you want to call them that. Albus, Scorpius, and Delphi, if you want to refer to them as “the kids,” I guess… [Seeing the older trio actors] pick up their mannerisms and how they go from teenagers, young adults, whatever, to middle-aged Ministry officials in an office, having to navigate that. It was like watching the whole Bellatrix thing with Hermione in Gringotts with Helena Bonham Carter and Emma Watson’s mannerisms. That’s what it reminded me of with that whole scene.

Claire: Yeah. Actually, that whole bookshelf scene was hilarious. It was so well done.

Alison: Oh, it was so good.

Mary: Oh, the bookshelf… the library, yeah, with the slides too.

Alison: That’s another thing. Yeah, the stage just really brought that out. That was just brilliant. The way they had the actors hiding in the bookshelves so that they could switch out who was who was amazing. I really enjoyed that scene, and I think that could’ve come off as really tacky. [laughs] Otherwise, just the way the production had it working worked so well for me.

Claire: It was one of those things that felt so reminiscent of the series. It felt like their exploration into the Ministry of Magic in Order of the Phoenix, the Department of Mysteries, and they’re sort of before it all gets a bit serious. The fun bit of going into all the different areas. It felt like that, and I enjoyed that a lot.

Alison: Yeah. Well, let’s ask a quick question to round it out. Quick fire: Is it canon?

Claire: [laughs] I’m picking and choosing. Some of it? Yes.

Mary: Oh, gosh.

Sophie: Yeah, I really… [laughs] I don’t know where I am on this.

Mary: This is a tough one.

Claire: I say the first 15 minutes is canon. [laughs] And then the odd moment after that…

[Alison and Claire laugh]

Mary: As a whole, I would have to say no, it is not canon, and Keith will be very proud to hear that.

[Claire laughs]

Mary: No, it is not canon.

Claire: I say it’s as much canon as the films, where at the very end of Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Snape goes into Godric’s Hollow and is crying over Lily’s dead body in that atrocious scene.

[Alison laughs]

Claire: It’s on that level of, like… it could of happened. It’s part of this mishy-mashy – and I’m actually going to quote Doctor Who – “timey-wimey” universe that is Harry Potter. It’s not part of the books but it’s part of that world, and I think only fans like us will actually get what people mean by that. I don’t think it’s as regimented as canon and not-canon. It’s part of it. It’s present.

Sophie: I’ll agree with that, I think. I feel like it is a part of it, and… I don’t know. [laughs]

Alison: That’s where I’m at too. But we are actually, listeners, going to have another special bonus episode where we’re going to talk about this in the canon debate, so look forward to that one soon. We just have so many episodes we’re doing about this.

[Claire laughs]

Alison: I think we’re going to have six total, all about Cursed Child, so lucky you. [laughs]

Sophie: Yay!

Claire: And I have to say that’s been, for me, the best bit about Cursed Child. Like it or loathe it – and much of it [is] loathed – but I’ve had more conversations about Harry Potter. Considering that I have worked with MuggleNet for four years, I’ve had more conversations about Harry Potter in the last two weeks than I have had in the last ten years. I think since the last… I remember having debates on trains with friends when the last book came out, and I’m having the same debates now. I rearranged a dinner date with a friend just so we could talk about Cursed Child.

[Alison laughs]

Claire: And that’s exciting. It’s new content, whether we like it or not. It is new content. [laughs]

Alison: It is.

Sophie: That is exciting. It’s interesting. Obviously, some people are seeing it… not everyone can, obviously. Some people are just reading it, and the way that makes everyone’s reactions different…

Alison: Yeah.

Sophie: It’s been quite interesting. And also, people are seeing it [at] staggered times, so you can’t all consume it at once. But now it’s so good everyone is talking about Harry Potter. [laughs]

Alison: It is. It’s so nice. It’s fun to be… For me at least, I was too young when the books were coming out to really be ingrained in fandom, so it’s nice for me to be experiencing this for the first time to know that there’s a community out there that’s really excited and that we can have these debates and that it’s not just me. [laughs]

Sophie: And just going back to the whole theater thing, it was amazing being in a theater obviously full of Harry Potter fans. And just the atmosphere as it began and the reaction to all the things – the gasps, the laughs – yeah, it was amazing being there for that kind of reaction.

Mary: And then also the awestruck feeling of walking out of there too.

Claire: A slight sidetrack: What were the biggest gasps for you guys in your show? Because for the show I saw, it was “Neville Longbottom is dead; Cedric Diggory killed him.”

Alison: Oh yeah.

Sophie: That was pretty big in ours too.

Mary: Oh, wow.

[Claire laughs]

Mary: The Neville one.

Alison: The big reveal about Delphi, that one got a lot.

Sophie: I think Snape, as well. People gasped. It was quite a big gasp.

Alison: I think Umbridge when Umbridge came out.

Sophie: Oh yeah.

Alison: A lot of people freaked out, in my show, at least. There were a lot of moments that… I think it’s one of those things where this #KeepTheSecrets did a very good job in that there were things that nobody was expecting, and so when they came out it just took everyone by complete surprise.

Sophie: I had that feeling as well. Obviously, when you read a book, you can skim over bits if it’s too much, or you can put it down and walk away. I just had that feeling… I can’t remember which part, maybe the Dementors or something…

Alison: Oh!

Sophie: I was like, “I can’t walk away from this and I don’t want this to happen, and I have to stay in this seat and watch it happen.” That feeling of being there and not being able to stop it for a bit… [laughs]

Claire: How did we not talk about the Dementors?

Alison: I don’t know.

[Claire laughs]

Alison: Those Dementors were…

Sophie: They terrified me.

Alison: Me too! I closed my eyes. I just could not even look at them because they’re flying around the audience and one of them got… We were near the front of the balcony, and one of them just gets close and I was like, “Nope, not looking. Not going to watch. This is not going to happen.” [laughs]

Sophie: Yeah.

Alison: And they were terrifying.

Sophie: They were. We were near the back of the stools and I just remember saying to my friend, “I’m so glad we’re not near the front with them.”

Claire: [laughs] I chose when Voldemort walked down into the auditorium. On stage it isn’t that scary, but I was in the aisle and when he walked past me and his cloak almost touched me, I was like, “Okay, now I’m unnerved. This is creepy.”

[Alison and Claire laugh]

Alison: [In] that moment, nobody was quite sure what was going to happen. So up in the balcony, everyone was leaning over the railing. [laughs] Because everyone was trying to watch where he was going and what was going to happen. Oh, it was really funny and terrifying because there was just so much tension right then.

Claire: No, he was scary.

[Alison and Claire laugh]

Claire: Oh, crikey.

Alison: Well, as you can tell, we have a lot to talk about in our next episodes coming up. So thank you so much, Claire and Sophie and Mary, for joining me in talking about this. Yeah, thanks for coming out.

Claire: Cheers.

Sophie: Yeah, thanks.

Claire: It’s good to chat.

Sophie: Yeah, so much to say. [laughs]

Mary: Lots of fun.

Alison: Just a reminder, we will be doing four episodes, one for each act on Alohomora! where we’re going to be diving in-depth, and those are coming up starting with Episode 200, which is our next official episode to release, so it worked out.

Claire: Episode 200 of Alohomora! Oh my gosh. [laughs]

Alison: Yep.

Mary: 200.

[Alison laughs]

Sophie: That’s amazing.

Alison: Yeah, we’re really lucky that Cursed Child came out when it did and things have just neatly lined up perfectly for this. Well, until next time, I guess, until we see you guys again, I’m Alison Siggard.

[Show music begins]

Claire: I’m Claire Furner.

Sophie: I’m Sophie Reid.

Mary: And I’m Mary Wojcicki.

Alison: Thank you for listening to this special bonus episode of Alohomora!

Claire: Open the Dumbledore to the stage.

[Show music ends]

Alison: And this is Alohomora! Open the Dumbledore… [laughs] That sounded so dumb.

[Claire laughs]

Alison: I’ve got to do something else! Okay, back up. We’ve got to [re]do that.