[Show music begins]
Caleb Graves: This is Episode 200 of Alohomora! for August 20, 2016.
[Show music continues]
Caleb: Hey, everyone. Welcome to another great episode of Alohomora! We have hit the double century mark. Just super exciting, so thanks for joining us.
Gina Aswell: Woo!
Caleb: I’m Caleb Graves.
Alison Siggard: I’m Alison Siggard.
Eric Scull: I’m Eric Scull. And we have – as usual for Alohomora! – a guest this week. Special fan guest Gina, please introduce yourself.
Gina: Hi, I’m Gina Aswell. I am a Gryffindor and Thunderbird, and I’m so excited to be on the 200th episode. I live in Louisiana in Cajun country, which is currently now flooding, but I seem to be on dry land.
Caleb: I was going to ask…
Gina: [laughs] Yeah, so that’s me.
Eric: Oh man, fellow Thunderbirds soaring high above all that water.
Alison: Tell us how you got into Harry Potter, Gina.
Gina: Well, [it’s] the normal story for someone my age: I was 19 and I saw the first movie. I was hungover in New Orleans…
Gina: Yeah. [laughs] It gave me such a good feeling. I was like, “God, I need to know more about this.” My dad is a pediatrician; he [was] like, “I have all the books. Do you want to read them?” So once I started, I didn’t stop. I didn’t get really into the fandom because of life until probably right before Deathly Hallows came out. So yeah, I absolutely love it, and I love your podcast.
Alison: Aww, thanks. And you are here for a very special episode.
Eric: It’s very fitting.
Alison: We are on Episode 200. Guys, 200! That’s crazy!
Eric: Guys, we did it. We did it. Now we get retirement benefits.
Caleb: That’s what I’m talking about. Hit me with that.
Alison: In case you guys were wondering, [Episode] 100 was Order of the Phoenix two years ago. We’ve covered a lot in 100 episodes. Quite a bit.
Eric: Yeah, namely Books 6 and 7.
[Alison and Eric laugh]
Alison: Yes, and half [of] Book 5, actually. It ends up being, I think, something… [laughs]
Eric: Oh yeah, right, you said it was Chapter 24 or something of Order of the Phoenix?
Eric: Okay.  of 38. So yeah, wow.
Alison: But it’s exciting because we’re on a new chapter for Alohomora!, in a way, and we are on a new chapter for Harry Potter because this week we are talking about Cursed Child: Part 1, Act 1.
Eric: Hello… [laughs]
Alison: I have been waiting a month and a half at least. This is our first of four official episodes, and we may or may not have some other special bonus episodes coming your way, listeners. So yeah, I’m excited. This is going to be awesome. [laughs]
Eric: Dedicated entirely to everyone’s present West End play.
[Alison and Eric laugh]
Eric: Well, this episode of our podcast – [number] 200 – is sponsored by Ingrid Nordsed, aka Norwegian_Ridgeback on the Alohomora! Patreon. You, too, listener, can become one of our sponsors for as little as $1 per month. And we have a lot of special features; cool things like extra exclusive tidbits and episode clips, bloopers… all sorts of stuff for our sponsors. And to find out more, please visit the Alohomora! Patreon.
Alison: Thank you, Ingrid! [claps]
Alison: Well… [laughs] without any further ado, then, let’s jump in. Here we go, right into Cursed Child. Let’s just start with everyone’s overall impressions. This has been quite a polarizing thing. So Gina, tell us what you think about Cursed Child.
Gina: Well, I really want to know what you think about it because didn’t you see it, Alison?
Alison: I did. But we will get to me. [laughs]
Gina: Yes, I know. I enjoyed the story; let me start off with that. However, I know she authorized it and guided the story, but it just really didn’t feel like Jo to me. It was very theatrical, and I’m sure the experience live is great, but I felt like the plot devices overtook the story in many ways. I don’t know; Jo’s style is so much more subtle than that. And where were Molly and Arthur? And the daddy issues were just a little too pronounced for me. But overall, though, it was a good read. I read Part 1 today again and I really enjoyed it. I did.
Caleb: Yeah, so I’ll go ahead and jump in. I absolutely loved it. I was actually really shocked by so much of the negativity, and I’m actually upset about it. So maybe this will be my chance to iron it out.
[Alison and Gina laugh]
Alison: I love it. This is so good. I feel so happy right now!
[Alison and Gina laugh]
Caleb: For me, I think maybe it’s the mindset I came in. One, I knew it was going to be totally different. I did not have any expectation for it to be the “eighth story,” even though that’s what it was billed as. I just never accepted it as that in the way that I think a lot of people did. Two, I just genuinely love drama. I love plays – I can’t wait to go see it – but I also just love reading plays, and that’s something I’ve always enjoyed. So I really enjoyed that new way of enjoying Harry Potter. And third, it was just such a cool thing to experience it when I never expected something like this to come. It was just such a joy to be able to get it. I didn’t have a lot of high expectations as far as what it would do for the characters in the future, so I just took it as what it was, and really, really loved it. Every bit of it.
Eric: That’s nice. That’s nice.
Alison: That makes me so happy because I, too, have been really upset by a lot of the negativity. Like you said, Gina, I actually got to see it about a month and a half ago, which I’ve mentioned a couple of times. But I went in really nervous. I went in really anxious. I stayed away from spoilers, but I kept seeing all of these people freaking out about the spoilers. So I went in really nervous, but I loved it. I definitely see its issues – I think it’s got a couple pretty major issues – but I think overall the themes [and] the characters… [These] things are either aligned with the kinds of things we’ve seen in Harry Potter in the novels, or are natural continuations of what we’ve seen. And on stage, it’s one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen in my life. I’ve done and been involved in theater my whole life, and it was absolutely breathtaking. Casting, costuming, everything… it was absolutely mind-blowing. And listeners, in case you were wondering…
Gina: What about the special effects? I’m sorry.
Alison: Oh my gosh! Oh no, it’s fine. Oh my gosh, they were amazing. I had trouble figuring out what some things were. Actually, we recorded a special bonus episode [that] we’ll be releasing soon with some of the MuggleNet staff who have seen the play. We talked about the actual production side of it, and there were some things… Our MuggleNet staffer Claire has some insight that you’ll hear about, about some of these special effects that were honestly blowing my mind. I could not figure out how they were doing them. Honestly, I can’t wait for everyone to see it, and I hope everyone can see it soon because it’s brilliant, it’s wonderful, and I love it.
Gina: Ugh, so now I need tickets. [laughs]
Eric: Yeah, I see a lot of the same feedback from people who’ve seen the play live: “It was amazing. It was brilliant. It looked great.” And I share the same wish. I really hope everyone can see it, myself included. I’m interested in seeing it. At the moment, it’s not accessible to me in that form. Perhaps, listening to you guys talk about the play [and] overall thoughts, I think maybe my distance is more of an ideological one. I can’t get over the fact that we’ve been asked to take this as an eighth story…
Alison: Oh, I don’t think it’s the eighth story, though. But I’ll get into that later.
Eric: Well, see, it’s so amusing to me to hear fellow Harry Potter fans going, “I loved it! The story! Major plot flaws! Major, major plot flaws! Loved the story! It’s great Harry Potter! Great fun! Major plot flaws, but great fun!” And I’m like, “No, no, no. Wait a minute. Wait a minute here,” because for me, it encroaches on the existing canon. Not to get into a canon discussion, but it really affects how I feel about the characters and the previous books, knowing that one day they’re destined to go and have these events happen to them. So I feel a lot more locked in to treating this story as seriously as I would a Harry Potter book, and therefore I get really hung up on a lot of the story’s flaws. So I have trouble separating myself and being able to just relax and be like, “Hey, it’s fun. It’s a play.” I guess in my head I’m still treating it like it were the next book, and I realize that’s probably flawed.
Alison: Well, I’m excited to hear what everybody thinks about all of the little details, so let’s jump in. We start with opening at a very familiar scene: King’s Cross, 2017. It’s not quite the same as the Deathly Hallows epilogue. The first few pages are, but then we start diverting a little bit. Why?
Eric: Eh. Right? Eh, it’s a play. It’s the starting of a play. I like that the play opens this way because it’s something familiar, right? You’re going into a play to see all the Harry Potter characters as adults. You don’t know what you’re going to get. And to have the play start off right where the series left off in the future seems like a no-brainer. It obviously evokes a lot of the nostalgia that we feel right off the bat. So I think it was probably very smart for them to do that.
Alison: But why is it slightly different? Because I remember sitting in the theater and things were happening and I was like, “Wait, that’s not right. That’s not quite what happened…”
[Eric and Gina laugh]
Alison: “Wait. Hold on. Hold on.”
Eric: Well, ultimately – even though it is the scene that we last left off of from the books – it has to, in a way – as an opening scene of a play – functionally set the tone of the play. Right? So it has to do a couple other things, which is why you get introduced to certain characters. I can only assume it’s why Lily and James are both there – the children – because they’re not in the rest of the play, pretty much. They really tried, I think, to straddle between setting up the future – the entire play – and touching on where the audience last left off with Harry.
Alison: Let’s actually touch on that because that’s been a big thing I’ve been seeing. A lot of people are upset about certain characters that aren’t either mentioned or that don’t show up. Two major ones I’ve seen are Hugo and Teddy Lupin. I have my theories on this. I actually was talking to someone, and they called it the Marvel Cinematic Universe Effect.
Alison: At some point the world gets so big and there [are] so many characters in it that to tell one focused story, you can’t have everyone in it; as in the way that Marvel characters don’t all come running into each individual’s movie, necessarily.
Eric: So you’re telling me that Hugo Weasley and Teddy Lupin got Natalie Portman-ed in the Cursed Child play.
[Alison and Gina laugh]
Eric: I like it. I like it a lot.
Caleb: Yeah, I do think that makes sense because if you bring them in… especially because those characters… well, I guess all of these characters we don’t get much of in the Deathly Hallows epilogue, you run the risk of diluting them in a really weird way by giving them presence in the beginning, and then they’re never there or just on the sidelines later. So I’m fine with it.
Gina: I think, too, that he’s supposed to feel isolated, so bringing in more characters would make him feel less isolated.
Caleb: Sure, yeah.
Alison: I did wish for at least one little mention of Teddy, though. Come on, throw me a bone for Teddy Lupin. [laughs]
Eric: Well, you had that symmetry, right? I mean, Teddy closing the series as an orphan, and having Harry… It would’ve been interesting to see how Teddy’s young self is coping and actually have it be a point of the play to compare that to Harry or even Harry’s children. So I can see why people wanted Teddy, for sure, especially because his parents were both awesome.
Alison and Gina: Yes.
Eric: So you could only assume that wherever Teddy is in this universe, he’s being awesome.
Alison: Exactly. Speaking of awesome characters, we get introduced to some extremely awesome characters, the first of which is Rose Granger-Weasley, who is one of the most wonderful people that I have ever known. I guess characters. Just kidding. [laughs] And she hops on the Hogwarts Express… Okay, what did you guys think of Rose? Actually, I’m curious what it’s like to have just read her instead of [having] seen her because she was an absolute delight.
Eric: Yeah, I imagine it’s rougher just reading her. I think she’d probably be a delight. There’s a part of her character that reads as elitist, though. Maybe not immediately, although there is… I think it’s very astute for her to have the line in Part 1, Act 1 on the train – their first day – and go, “Hey, our parents met on their first train ride. This is important! You get to choose your friends for the rest of your life on here!” And I thought, “That’s really cute that she’s excited about this.” Then when she was like, “Oh, and we’ll have our pick because we’re all famous,” I was like, “Wait a minute… what?”
Gina: I felt the same way.
Eric: So getting to know her is a little wonky. If she had been in more of the play – which regrettably, she’s not – I also would’ve probably had more of a feeling toward her, but I’m just wary about Rose in general. I’m awaiting the eventual video release of the play to make my judgement because I’m sure she is – as you say, Alison – delightful.
Alison: Yeah, that’s interesting because she’s actually one of several characters that, reading it after seeing it, I could see how people could interpret it differently than they’d been acted. Because Rose is just very confident in herself; she has Hermione’s inner confidence in everything she’s doing, but also Ron’s ability to not really care what anyone else thinks and to just speak her mind. It was just so nice to see that meeting of two characters we know and love so well in such a perfect way. I thought she was great.
Caleb: I actually didn’t get as much out of her on the page as I wanted. So I’m really looking forward to seeing her in the play because I feel the actress probably brings her much more to life because really, for me in the play, it’s just these very brief and sharp moments. I really like this first scene when we meet her – I think it’s great – but for me it was just a little too telegraphed every time we saw her.
Alison: Yeah, I can see that.
Eric: And Scorpius’s affection for her throughout the play doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
Alison: Oh, they’re so precious! [laughs]
Eric: I believe you. I believe you. I don’t think it’s in the script; I think it’s all in the performance.
Alison: Yeah, I will probably agree with that. Speaking of such, Scorpius – aka the most adorable, enthusiastic nerd to ever nerd, ever – from the moment he arrived, I loved him. We meet him on the train and we notice that he’s very willing to confront the rumors surrounding himself and his family with one of his greatest lines: “Father-son issues, I have them.”
Eric: See, I’m surprised he didn’t say, “I haz them,” with a “z”…
Eric: … and it could be meme-ified immediately across the Internet. He seems like a very topical, relevant, down-to-earth kid. Scorpius in this play is an example of the joy that children can be. Right?
Eric: The joy that bringing around children can be to somebody who’s observing them and their antics. I think it’s important that they nail something in a big way in this play, and I think Scorpius is probably that kid, more so than Albus.
Eric: But that might not be fair.
Caleb: Yeah, I think I say the same as Alison. I just love that he’s this undeniably enthusiastic nerd. That’s such a good way to put it. I loved it. Normally these are the people you have secondhand embarrassment for.
Caleb: I just think if you’re so good at it and embrace it, it’s such an enjoyable experience.
Alison: And that’s one of the things I love most about him [and] how Anthony Boyle portrays him; it’s this over-bubbling enthusiasm. You can tell he’s a little insecure in himself, but sometimes he just cannot hold himself back of being enthusiastic about everything he loves. And it’s absolutely a delight. It’s just wonderful. [laughs]
Caleb: Yeah, I think the question is, “Where does it come from?” Right? Because it definitely doesn’t come from Draco. Maybe it comes from Astoria, or just other interactions he had, but…
Eric: Yeah, I did wonder why. What about the genes say that he should be this way: bookish and very over-enthusiastic? I don’t know. I don’t want to…
Alison: Well, we do know Draco was a good student, so that doesn’t surprise me. And we don’t know much about Astoria, so I like thinking that she was a very light, bubbly person and that her son picked up on that. I think that’s a really nice thing to think about, especially knowing Draco as much as we do.
Gina: Well, and Draco, too, seems like he would have been a different person if he wouldn’t have had his family. And he seems lighter even after her death, which… we’re not there yet. But maybe there is something of that in him.
Eric: Yeah. It’s really interesting to compare Scorpius in this play to Albus. Obviously, they become best friends, but Albus, given his parentage of Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley… You find it hard, I think, at times, to see why Albus is so miserable. But then you have Scorpius, whose mom is terminally ill and dies, and his dad is trying to bat away this evil rumor for pretty much Scorpius’s entire life, and Scorpius is mostly untouched and very bubbly. So I don’t know. It’s an interesting dichotomy of what they’re trying to do. The rumor, if we could talk about it very briefly, just kind of startled me.
Alison: Oh yeah.
Eric: I don’t know really what to think about… I guess I’m curious how a rumor like this would even become a thing in the world, realistically. To me it feels like a very arbitrary thing for the play to be doing to maybe foreshadow the inevitable reveal of Delphini or other things, but it just seems unrealistic to me in the world of Harry Potter that this rumor could have formed about Voldemort’s children. So what are you guys’ take on that?
Alison: I don’t know. I think you always get things like that when you have someone so notorious. You get rumors that they had some secret child that’s been hidden away. It’s almost like the Anastasia legend; there’s a secret child hidden somewhere and they can bring this back. So there’s almost that element to it, but I can see it happening.
Alison: People are weird; they come up with weird things.
Eric: Yeah. It’s such a horrible thing to put upon an 11-year-old: “Your dad is not your dad, and not only that, but your dad is the Dark Lord”?
[Eric and Gina laugh]
Eric: “And your mom is not your mom, or she is, but she time travelled back in time and slept with You-Know-Who, of all people, to have you.” It just emasculates Draco by saying that their marriage was not fruitful; that they could not conceive. And the idea that a young Astoria could even seduce Voldemort or make that happen… I think it raises so many issues that aren’t actually addressed in the play. It’s just this thing that makes Draco angry with Harry and just this thing that makes Scorpius a little bit more withdrawn. I think without this rumor, Scorpius would be the most popular kid at Hogwarts, given all of his character merits. It’s really just this rumor that holds Scorpius back. Would you guys agree?
Caleb: I guess for me it just wasn’t that surprising when I came across it. I think it’s kind of what Alison was getting at. It’s something that would almost… I don’t want to say be expected, but I mean, we’ve seen the way wizarding Britain reacts to things. They don’t always respond logically, and [they act] very hype-ish on stuff. So it wasn’t something that was very surprising to me, and I think it did some good for developing Scorpius down the line.
Alison: So while Scorpius is one half of our wonderful duo in this show, we also have Albus. We’ll get into him a little bit more later. I have a couple points because I very much love Albus too. He has a very dear place in my heart as well. His little angsty self. But here on the train, we see him choose his preferred name, and he chooses Albus because he’s Harry Potter’s child and he’s not willing to make his own life easier for himself.
Alison: Because why would he when you could not go by the terrible name your father decided to give you?
Eric: What do you mean? What was the alternative? Should he have gone with Severus?
Gina: “Just call me Al.”
Eric: Call me Al? Yeah. Well, look, I think if we’re talking about Albus’s uncertainty for his own magical ability, he kind of sucks at magic. I think I, too, would play up being named after Dumbledore, one of the most accomplished wizards in the wizarding world known universe. I don’t know. I think it would make me feel a closer, stronger tie to magic if my skills were lacking.
Alison: Okay. Yeah, that makes sense, I guess. Because that is one of the things I really appreciate about Albus and about this story: that it’s definitely an identity-searching story.
Alison: And okay, I see now how that fits into that thematic arc going on there.
Gina: Did y’all think it was weird when they would say, “Thank Dumbledore”? I kind of thought that was odd.
Caleb: Yeah, I wasn’t a huge fan of that.
Eric: Some things in the last 19 years have changed a lot, and most things have not changed at all. Dumbledore has totally replaced Merlin.
Caleb: Yeah, that’s what I was just about to say.
Eric: It’s no longer “Merlin’s beard” or “Merlin’s pants”; it’s “Dumbledore’s beard” and “Dumbledore’s…”
Alison: Is that just with the kids, though?
Caleb: I think it’s only kids who do that.
Eric: But the kids don’t even know who Dumbledore was, or is. They never knew him personally.
Alison: But that’s the point!
Caleb: Maybe it’s just a trendy thing that they pick up or something.
Eric: Yeah, I was going to say cat breading, but I wanted to say planking.
[Alison and Gina laugh]
Alison: It’s the “on fleek” of the wizarding world. [laughs]
Eric: Yeah, thank you! Thank you, Alison. You’re in touch with children and I am not.
Gina: Oh, that’s good.
Alison: Yeah, no, I agree. It was a little weird, though. It was like, “What? Why?” [laughs]
Eric: I think some things have to be new and different on purpose, though, just to show the passage of time.
Alison: And we move quickly through time in this next couple of scenes…
Eric: Oh no!
Alison: … which, I will be honest, was almost a little disorienting when you’re watching it go on stage. It goes so fast. So we move from this first day, September 1, 2017, to all the way through this… In one scene we go to September 1, 2000 and… whenever Albus is 14. I can’t do math.
Alison: Thank you. Yes. So do we think it was a good idea to have all of this happen when he’s 14? Because Harry Potter mostly all happened within the span of a year, but this is a much shorter time limit.
Eric: Yeah, the play is essentially two months long – if you discount all the September firsts in the beginning of it – because I think it ends on Halloween. But I can see what they were trying to do to have Albus be… Of course, you have to have the “19 years later” scene as a starting point, right? But I think eventually they wanted to have Albus be the same age as Harry was when Harry was going through the events that Albus travels back to. I think that was probably their main idea.
Alison: Oh, that’s a good… yeah.
Eric: And also to be able to do more stuff with the actors and the characters; have them a little older. So whereas they start out at 11 – and I think I, too, would have just expected that Albus and all of the kids would have remained that same age and we would have seen a year in the life of the epilogue world – they make a bold decision to showcase the next three years. Now, whether time passes realistically or characters develop intuitively I think is another conversation to have because I think this time-jumping does a disservice in the characterization department in making it feel like nothing has changed year by year by year. I assume on stage they would have, I don’t know, let their hair down or something. But we do just get so painfully brief glimpses of these characters, and we see Harry just losing Albus as a son because each year the conversation is just more distant. And despite what Harry said about Slytherin, Albus was in Slytherin and Harry doesn’t like it. So it’s just a depressing downward spiral. But I understand they had to somehow get from year 1 to year 4, so rather than make a play about it they just did a really quick time jump.
Alison: Okay, let’s talk about Albus in Slytherin, then. Right decision? Wrong decision? Thoughts?
Eric: I would have put Rose in Slytherin, I would have put Scorpius in Ravenclaw, and I would have put Albus in Hufflepuff. That’s me.
Alison: Okay, okay.
Eric: Actually, is anybody else upset that there [was] still no representation for Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw? Is anybody else upset about that?
Alison and Gina: Yes.
Alison: There’s not a lot of it on stage. I was like, “How hard would it have been to throw a couple people in some yellow sweaters? Come on.”
Eric: Yellow sweaters! We need them.
Caleb: I mean, honestly, I don’t mean to hate on the Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs out there…
Eric: Oh yes, you do!
Caleb: … but it didn’t bother me that much because this story is about the Malfoys and the Potters.
Alison: That’s true.
Eric: Well, hang on, but why couldn’t Scorpius be a Ravenclaw? Why couldn’t Albus be a Hufflepuff?
Alison: Because he needs to be a Slytherin because he needs to be the antithesis to everyone else.
Caleb: Yeah. Well, for me, Scorpius and Albus both definitely belong in Slytherin. I think that totally makes sense. When I read the line, I screamed out, “No!” as a diehard Gryffindor. I screamed out loud; I was so bummed. But I enjoyed that. That was such a real visceral experience for me and I felt so [a] part of that. I loved that. But I just felt like both of those did belong in Slytherin. And yeah, it sucks there’s still not Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff rep out there, just like it sucks that there’s other lack of representation in the play, which are broader topics we can talk about later. But for me, it made total sense.
Alison: Yeah, I kind of yelled… not yelled; I was in the theatre [so] I couldn’t yell. But I was like, “Dang it, I knew it,” when they said Slytherin for him because… I don’t know. I just feel like there was so much leading up to that – that was indicating that – that there was almost no other way to go.
Gina: Oh yeah. There was so much foreshadowing.
Eric: So what kind of stuff do you think was leading up to it?
Alison: Well, just the whole epilogue. I mean, everyone has been calling [that] Albus will be a Slytherin since 2007.
Eric: Oh. Yeah, because he’s nervous about it. He seems to have some inkling that that would be where he ended up, or at least was raised to fear it somehow still.
Alison: But I think then these two characters give a nice rallying point for a lot of people who identify as Slytherins. And it shows us how maybe Slytherin has changed and how people’s opinions can change throughout this time.
Eric: Maybe. I don’t know what to think because of what they did to Cedric Diggory in this play, so I don’t know what to think about Sorting anymore. Yeah, I’m confused.
Alison: [laughs] Well, other news: We learn that Rose is a Gryffindor, and that she very much plays up the famous family connections.
Eric: If you’ve got it, flaunt it.
Alison: Yeah, which was interesting to me. It’s a very almost Ron thing to do. Don’t you think?
Caleb: Yeah, for me, she really just represented this perfect combo of Hermione and Ron in this very childlike, adorable, “Mm, you’re not perfect yet, but it’s still cute so it’s kind of okay,” way. But yeah, I love to see that Ron come out of what was stronger Hermione personality.
Alison: Yeah. But who doesn’t have their dad’s personality is… well, who doesn’t think he has his dad’s personality; I’ll get into how Albus is basically Harry to a T in a lot of ways. We see that Albus is not very good at flying or at spells, a lot of the things that Harry is known for. And as we go through this time – like Eric mentioned earlier – Harry, it seems, is really trying hard at these train scenes, but it’s Albus who is really starting to pull away. As I like to call him, the King of Angst. He ignites his Hogsmeade form. And a really interesting… just from [a] seeing-and-then-reading standpoint, they describe it as his eyes [becoming] darker [and] his face [growing] more sallow. He’s still an attractive boy but he’s trying not to admit it, which in some weird ways had a lot of interesting parallels to how Voldemort is described in Half-Blood Prince.
Eric: I like that connection. Also, you just mentioned that he didn’t like Hogsmeade or whatever. Here’s the quote. This bothers me, his Hogsmeade line. Harry says, ”Third year. Big year. Here is your permission form for Hogsmeade.” Albus says, “I hate Hogsmeade.” Harry says, “How can you hate a place you haven’t actually visited yet?” And Albus says, “Because I know it’ll be full of Hogwarts students.” Does this seem like a red flag to you guys about Albus? I think it’s a step beyond antisocialism. “I hate Hogsmeade because it has Hogwarts students in it.” What?
Gina: Yeah, it was a little much for me.
Alison: I think it makes sense. I think he has become so ostracized in a place that everyone around him loves so much that it becomes very…
Eric: He’s not the one with the bad rumor flying…
Alison: Okay, but everyone expected him to be something that he’s not. He has that line at the end of the scene where he says, “I didn’t choose. You know that? I didn’t choose to be his son.” And that gets into some themes that I want to talk about, but it’s very much this… He’s expected to be something and he’s looking for his identity. He wants to know who he is, and who he is is not what everyone looks at him and thinks he is. Scorpius, I think, is a lot better at deflecting that, whereas Albus, I think, takes things a lot more personally. He feels so isolated even in so many people that he just doesn’t care. He’s just gotten to this point where he doesn’t care. He has Scorpius and that’s the only person he’s felt has accepted him for being a person, rather than either wanting him to be Harry Potter’s son or be what they thought he was. I don’t know. I think that that’s really a key indicator to some of these themes that are going to start running throughout.
Caleb: I really agree with that, Alison, that we see Albus and Scorpius are going through similar things – not all the exact same things – but we’re seeing them process things very differently. And Scorpius is the more optimistic – for lack of better word – almost all the time. And I think the play writers did a really good job of bringing out this idea that no matter what’s going on, kids process things in very different ways. And if you haven’t been in that sort of experience, it’s really hard to always understand how kids can differently internalize things. And even though Albus almost has no reason to be so down on himself and be so antisocial and almost [have] this borderline depression because he has a great family… Even though he has a lot to live up to, he’s very fortunate if you think about him in a real world setting. But it’s just [that] kids process things in such different ways even in differing circumstances. And I really enjoyed that aspect of the play.
Eric: What if Scorpius wanted to go to Hogsmeade and get some of those sweets he loves so much? Then Albus can’t go with him.
Gina: That’s exactly what I was going to say, yeah.
Eric: Hogsmeade represents an evening stroll; it’s an opportunity that you didn’t have before to actually get away from Hogwarts.
Caleb: I mean, I think that Albus probably would want to go to Hogsmeade, but I think he’s putting up this…
Caleb: … not fake, but near fabricated wall to his dad. He’s trying to put on this act for his dad.
Eric: I buy that. I buy that.
Caleb: Yeah, it’s just almost a show.
Alison: Yeah, I definitely think that’s part of it too. I mean, later on we get Ginny telling Harry, “He knows when you’re putting up your Harry Potter act.” And I feel like Albus reflects that back to Harry, and that he’ll put up an act right back and…
Gina: Fair enough. Yeah, that’s good.
Alison: Yeah. We’re going to get into their relationship, though, because there’s a lot I want to dig into there. But Harry and Hermione is our next scene, years later. We find out that Hermione is the Minister for Magic, of course.
Eric: Woo! [claps]
Alison: Wonderful. And Harry is running the Auror Office. He’s still as reckless as he ever was, of course, because he’s Harry freaking Potter.
Alison: And I really, really love this scene because there’s still a very friendly, almost sibling-like relationship between the two of them. And I loved that you can see that that has become a lifelong thing. We get that Harry still doesn’t do his paperwork because when has Harry ever done paperwork? And he just wants to go charging out there saving people, and it’s just…
Gina: It’s just so adorable; I just love that moment. And to me, that is the moment where Harry really came out in this as himself, as sassy Harry, telling her, “Oh, I piled my papers up; it’s no longer chaotic in here.” It’s just so cute. I love that moment.
Caleb: Yeah, I agree. It’s one of my favorite moments of the play.
Eric: Wow. For me, I just think it really robs Harry of any kind of internal development. A lot of things in this play do that for me, though. But I don’t know that Harry would just be this awful… I mean, he chose this job, for crying out loud. Would he really suck at it? Would he really suck at it in the way that he sucked at being a student? Because to be completely fair, in the seven Harry Potter books, Harry had a lot else going on during the school year.
Caleb: Let’s be clear; just because he’s not great at paperwork, doesn’t mean he sucks at his job.
Gina: Most policemen aren’t good at their paperwork, right?
Caleb: Yeah, this is showing typical bureaucracy, right?
Eric: Okay, okay, except this is… Well, that’s an interesting point, too, because I also want to believe that they created a better Ministry, which is completely not the case in this play.
Caleb: I think it’s better. It’s not perfect. Bureaucracy is never perfect, but I think it’s better.
Alison and Eric: Yeah.
Eric: But I mean, the papers contain very interesting reports that Harry would do very well to learn: things like giants not just being on the move, but… I don’t know if you mention this. This doesn’t come up in the play. I don’t know if you noticed. It doesn’t come up later on. But the giants apparently have bird tattoos on their backs, which is the Augury, so Delphi apparently has been legit rallying troops in present day, which is very weird…
Alison: But since when has Harry ever read anything? I mean, Hermione always just told him what she found.
Eric: That’s not good enough. That’s not good enough, though. 19 years later, that’s not good enough. Harry is an adult. These are things that you learn when you become a competent parent. Now, the play tries to portray Harry as a not competent parent; I get that.
Alison: Yes, I have things about that too.
Eric: But you just listen! You listen, you feel, you think, you grow, you learn… Everything about Harry’s experience in the seven books, like when he goes into the forest again to die, has… He’s learned so much about love [and] about the world, and accepted so much. And I don’t buy that 19 years later he’s reverted to this 17-year-old school kid who doesn’t do his homework. I don’t buy it.
Alison: That’s what you’ve exactly hit on, though. Harry is a man of action. He goes out and does things. He’s not going to sit there and necessarily think everything through. He’s the classic reckless Gryffindor.
Eric: What about Half-Blood Prince? Half-Blood Prince was all about research. [It] was all about sitting in a room, in a Pensieve, and studying the enemy. I think Dumbledore’s last lessons with Harry should have left a lasting impression on Harry. It was all about what you can piece together through carefully doing homework, actually, and that’s the reason they caught and killed Voldemort.
Alison: But that’s more like kinesthetic learning, and that’s always been Harry’s learning style. He needs to do. That’s why in Half-Blood Prince he doesn’t try to figure out, “Oh, what’s the Latin that makes up these spells?” No, he’s just going to try it and see what happens.
Eric: I’m sure we can come back to this. There [are] obviously more characters and stuff to debate about.
Caleb: I’ve seen that a lot of people have issues with Hermione being Minister for Magic. How did you all take that?
Alison: I thought it was great.
Eric: I like it. Some people think that she just wouldn’t want… Actually, what I’ve heard somebody [say] was just [that] she would want to be in a position where she could be more effective. And I’m like, “Wait a minute. But you’re Minister for Magic.”
Eric: But in many ways that [has] a public persona attached to it, so some people think maybe she would have stayed in the sidelines. I don’t have an opinion either way on it. I actually think it’s pretty cool that she’s the top dog. But some people think she would have maybe stayed in the [sidelines] because she doesn’t need the glory of it in the way that we would say Ron or Harry would want glory. Hermione isn’t that way.
Gina: I think she would be so good at that job because she doesn’t want that glory. And I also think that she’s always been good at delegating, so I think she’d be great. I think it’s a good choice.
Caleb: Yeah. I was definitely surprised by it, but I definitely bought into it immediately.
Alison: I think it’s one of those things… Also, I think it sets up a really nice thing that I adored, [which] was the sidetrack of Ron and Hermione’s relationship in this, where we see Hermione is the career-focused working parent and Ron is stay-at-home dad Ron, which I love. I think that’s awesome. And I really liked that that sets up that dynamic and sets up a really wonderful relationship that they’re going to explore a little bit more too. But speaking of characterizations, [laughs] we get our first mention… well, I guess it’s our second mention, technically… a weird characterization. Since when would Ginny, the sister of Fred, George, and Ron, not let her family eat sweets?
Eric: This is what you take issue with?
Alison: No, no, no! This is a very forgivable offense, I will give you that.
Eric: Finally, on page 86 of the play, out of 300, Alison has an issue with it. No, I’m just kidding.
Alison: [laughs] This is a very small one and I can forgive it. But still, was anyone else just going, “What? What is happening here?”
Gina: The second they said it when they were on the train, I was like, “What? Why?” It makes no sense to me.
Caleb: Yeah, I don’t know. I didn’t think too much of it. I guess they’re just making her a little bit more motherly, like moms not wanting their kids to eat too [many] sweets. I don’t know.
Eric: I’m going easy. I’m choosing to go easy on this. I feel like this was one of those lines that’s specifically in there to illustrate that these characters are adults now. When you’re talking about watching your weight, or what Harry says specifically – “We’re off sugar at the moment. You know you can get addicted to that stuff?” – is such an indicator that they are adults now because when you have the metabolism of a teenager, it’s not at all something that you care about whatsoever.
Alison: Speaking of parents, we get our first indication of Harry learning to be a parent, especially a day-to-day parent. I was actually sitting next to my friend who went with me. She was a psychology major, and she [leaned] over to me at the intermission, and she just said – something I hadn’t really thought about – that she was really loving the way that they were really exploring in this how Harry didn’t have a day-to-day dad in his life. He had lots of father figures for the big moments, but because he didn’t have one there consistently every day, he has trouble being a day-to-day dad, specifically to Albus who really needs that. And apparently that’s a big psychological… not study. What is the word I’m looking for? Phenomenon, I guess? Maybe?
Eric: Yeah, I was actually on a Twitter conversation with a girl… I think her name is Laura. I hope she doesn’t mind me calling her out – @dustyrain – but it was about this specific point because I had voiced my concerns that I really don’t buy [that] because Harry is an orphan, he would never make a great dad. I don’t buy that for one second because again, I think it’s about learning and listening and growing up. You’re with your kids for years before they can even speak, and you learn what their needs are just through the daily day-to-day practice of literally taking care of these children: raising them, not even in the fun “I’m going to go play with you out back” ways, which would have included broomstick flying, so I don’t know why Albus is so terrible at it.
Eric: But you really learn who your kids are, and I just don’t buy… It almost feels like opening the play when they’re 11 and fast-forwarding to [when] they’re 14 really shortchanges a lot of the time that Harry would have spent with Albus developing. And their disconnect obviously serves a very noticeable purpose for the play because they have to be seen at ends because that’s your conflict, but I just don’t like that Harry is such a bad dad. It hurts me.
Alison: I don’t know if I would say he’s a bad dad.
Eric: He kind of is.
Alison: I don’t know. I think he just struggles to connect to Albus, and I think some of that is Albus’s fault, which is… I mean, Harry should get that; he was doing the same thing in Order of the Phoenix, just shutting everyone out. But I think that’s just… because it seems like Harry has a fine relationship with James and with Lily.
Eric: Does it seem that way, or is that only because they’re omitted from the plot after September 1, 2017?
Alison: Well, I think so. When they talk about…
Caleb: I think with the conversations Albus and Harry have, you can tell that he has a pretty good relationship with James.
Alison: Yeah, and he knows that Lily would love something like fluttery fairy wings before school.
Eric: Oh yeah, this fourth year present time. Yeah, I just think James is an easy kid, and that’s sometimes… I’m sure parents everywhere attest that there [are] easy kids and there [are] not-so-easy kids. Actually, a lot of these scenes… I feel like it’s important to just show how your child can hurt you emotionally. They know exactly what to say. And so when we see Harry lose control, I don’t know that that necessarily reflects poorly on Harry. I think it actually, again, is showing the real-life phenomenon of a child knowing exactly where to cut.
Eric: So I get it, though. The conversation I was having with Laura on Twitter just said, “Unfortunately…” She reached out to comments I had previously made on MuggleCast – the episode where we did Part 1 – and she just said, “No, I’m an orphan as well, and I feel like I wouldn’t make a good parent.” And I was just like, “That’s so sad.” And I like to think that we have a natural ability to care for our young, and that something as unfortunate as being orphaned would not somehow relegate you to just not being a competent parent in the future. I just think it says something about an absolute that I just don’t think really should exist.
Alison: Well, I think that’s the nice thing about this play, then: It shows us that you can learn [and] you can figure out how to get to that point because we see Harry get to that point with Albus. Ginny starts giving him tips of “No, you have to say things this way. You have to tell him these things straight out.” And that’s when Harry starts to put it together and start working on it a little bit more and they start making progress, I guess. We’re going to get back into the family dynamic, though. We have a pretty big scene coming up with that. But before that, we get introduced to a very important new character, Delphi. Last name pending.
[Eric and Gina laugh]
Alison: Because I have theories on her, okay? [laughs] So I don’t know what to call her yet.
Eric: You have theories on her?
Alison: I do, but we’ll get there later. I’m sure we’ll have a whole discussion when her…
Eric: Okay. All right. I’ve heard people calling her “Riddle.” I’ve heard people just using “Riddle” because I get hung up on whether it’s “Lestrange” or… Rowle, is it, who raises her? So I get all hung up. But people seem to be saying either “Diggory,” which is how she’s introduced, or “Riddle,” which I like.
Alison: I tend to go toward “Lestrange” just because of my biggest theory, which is that… anyway, we’ll get there. [laughs]
Eric: We’ll get there. I can’t wait. It’s exciting.
Alison: So she pops up because Albus is eavesdropping, which made me laugh because I was like, “Oh yeah, you’re not like your parents, the two sneakiest people who are apt to go running around looking for information and things that they probably shouldn’t be into.” [laughs] But we get this very touching scene that reminds us of how much everything that happened in the series is still impacting Harry. Amos Diggory shows up [and] he starts blaming Harry again for Cedric, which, honestly, I think is a bit of a low blow. But we know he’s being controlled by Delphi so I guess we can slightly forgive him a little bit. But then Delphi pops up, and she is very Tonks-esque. I don’t know if you guys got this from the script, but when she pops up on stage she just has these mannerisms. From the moment I saw her I just thought, “Is this supposed to be someone related to Tonks?”
Eric: I’m so glad you said that. It does read that way to me in the script.
Caleb: I did not think about that.
Eric: I don’t think any other scene… but this first scene where she just pops in and toys with Albus a little bit, I think, struck me very much as she might as well have just said, “Wotcher, Albus.”
Eric: Because it did strike me as being very, very Tonks-esque. She’s playing innocent and it suits her. It fits her really well.
Caleb: I think, though – to back up just a little bit – Amos Diggory was the last character I was expecting to show up at this point. [laughs]
Caleb: I could not have called that from a mile away.
Eric: I know. That was one of the spoilers I read first and I was just like, “This is the worst thing ever.” Alison, what you were just saying – which was beautiful – about Harry just not being able to get over the events of the seven books… okay, yes, but he’s literally unable to be because the play writers have forced Amos Diggory back in to showcase this. But Amos Diggory is being not Imperiused, but Confunded to come and give Harry crap about what happened, and that’s why he’s just unable to escape it. It’s because [of] the forces that be because this play ultimately is a run-through of the highlights of the Harry Potter books, and that’s what’s… I would love for it to be poetic and brilliant in all these extra ways, but really, it’s forced. There’s so much time travel.
Alison: I don’t think so because I think – going back to themes again – one of the major themes of the play is how the past always impacts the present and you can’t get away from it, and you just have to…
Eric: That can’t possibly be the case, though, because the reason the past is influencing the present is because they’re traveling to the past and changing things!
Alison: But do you think Harry would’ve forgotten all this? I think it’s perfectly natural for me that Harry, even 22 years later, still feels a little bit of residual guilt. I mean, I’m sure he’s gotten over a lot of it, but I think without a doubt that Harry feels a little bit of residual guilt about everyone who died, was hurt, [or] suffered in some way because of his journey.
Eric: I’m sure. Survivor’s guilt is real. But it’s also a question of… Harry is so weak in this play. Harry is unable to defend himself, almost. He really does not make a strong enough case for why you very obviously cannot go back in time and save Cedric Diggory. And it is so unrealistic that this would be something that Amos would naturally give Harry such grief about. At least, thank God the plot explains [that it’s] because Delphi is Confunding him or whatever, but it just does not seem at all natural to me. This is becoming the “Let’s torture Harry” play. For the past.
Gina: Well, and I don’t understand because wouldn’t Harry pick up on that? That out of nowhere, here he comes? Wouldn’t he think, “Oh, there’s something wrong with this guy”?
Eric: Oh, if he were doing his homework, but he’s not doing his homework.
Caleb: I don’t know.
Gina: That’s right. He’s not very perceptive. That’s true.
Alison: Well, and I think this speaks to how good Delphi is, which I think is a very subtle thing in this play.
Eric: You think it’s subtle?
Alison: Well, in some ways, yeah. In fact, I didn’t get quite how good of a manipulator she was until I read it. Just seeing it, I was like, “Oh wow, she has played everyone.” But I didn’t quite get how deep she was going with that until I read it. For example, in this scene she tells Albus exactly what he wants to hear.
Alison: She has already figured him out so well and she knows exactly where she wants to place him so that she can get what she wants that she’s going to tell him everything. And we see this in another scene later with Scorpius. She’s going to change her story. She has figured them both out so well. She’s done her homework and she…
Eric: It’s almost unrealistic.
Alison: I don’t know. I think it makes a lot of sense.
Eric: A complete outsider can see into Albus’s core, but Harry can’t?
Alison: Well, I think she sympathizes with him too.
Eric: Yeah. Well, that’s possible. I think there’s probably good evidence in the plot to suggest that. But then the other portion of this Harry-failing-as-a-parent thing is that he’s not a single parent; there’s Ginny as well. And Ginny in this play, to me, seems to exist to point out all of Harry’s failings. She’s not actually doing anything about how distant Albus and Harry are. Maybe there’s nothing she can do, but I think she also is failing as a parent in some ways.
Alison: Oh, no. Nope. Because I think she is actually Albus’s preferred parent in a lot of ways.
Eric: Is there evidence for that in the play?
Alison: Oh yeah. When they show up in Godric’s Hollow, Albus runs straight to her and they just hold onto each other. They just run right to each other. And this isn’t written in the stage directions, but it was a really beautiful moment. I guess we’ll bring this up later, but when they’re in the church, Poppy Miller, who plays Ginny… Albus is asleep on the pew and she’s standing behind the pew, and she’s just stroking his hair like you would with a little kid.
Alison: And you can definitely see that they’ve made these characters very much… Albus and his mom love each other, but Ginny knows that he also needs his dad, and so she’s trying to help them organically figure out their issues so that they can come back together and be as close as she and Albus are.
Eric: Okay, I apologize for the tangent, but I was just bothered by that.
Alison: No, that’s okay. Well, anyway, let’s jump into the family bit again because that’s what happens after Delphi and Amos disappear. We get the pre-Hogwarts insanity, which I also think is one of the best scenes. We get a little bit more James Sirius, and he is exactly as he should be; [he’s] exactly as you’d think the grandson of the Marauders named after them… He’s carrying on the Marauders and the twins, and it’s perfect. We get a little bit of Lily, too, [whom] I also think is perfect. She’s just this sweet but very opinionated little girl. And again, we see Harry struggle to be a day-to-day dad to Albus. But I do think the blanket is one of the most beautiful things ever.
Eric: I like the blanket.
Alison: It just implies so much about Petunia, about Harry and Dudley’s relationship right here, and about Harry himself.
Caleb: I was extremely glad that they got this mention in the play, the Dursleys. It was really important to me that they showed up somewhere to be a part of Harry’s life somehow, so I really appreciated this.
Eric: It’s a shame Petunia had to die for that to happen, but I agree. This relic, this tie to the seven books, is the least offensive. It’s beautiful, even, that Harry would be able to find this. The line from the book is,
“This… is the last thing that I had from my mum. The only thing. I was given to the Dursleys wrapped in it. I thought it had gone forever and then, when your great-aunt Petunia died, hidden amongst her possessions, surprisingly, Dudley found this and he kindly sent it on to me, and ever since then…”
But again, the relationship between Harry and Dudley being illustrated in such a way that Dudley would find it and have the sense to pass it on and give it to Harry, and that Harry now gets such comfort from it, I think is very brave.
Alison: And even just that Petunia kept it. How much that says about what Harry didn’t know Petunia was thinking through all those years about Lily.
Eric: It almost makes up for the time she threw a frying pan toward his head, if you ask me. [laughs]
Alison: So as we go throughout this, though, Albus is a brat about this because he’s an angsty 14-year-old and he doesn’t want to talk to his dad. And we really get to this point [where] Harry still has a temper, that we’ve seen, and that Albus knows how to bait it, which feeds a lot into their relationship and to where they’re going to go from here. And then we get the line [where] Harry says sometimes he wishes Albus [weren’t] his son, which is heartbreaking.
Caleb: Yeah, I agree, it is very heartbreaking and it’s a tough line to deal with. But these things happen between parents and kids, where parents say things in the heat of the moment. They lose their temper and they immediately regret it and it’s awful. And they don’t mean it, but they say it, and I just felt this was so real. I thought it was a really good choice.
Eric: Yeah, it’s what I was saying earlier: Your kids know how to get to you. And I think at one point Albus calls it a “moldy blanket,” [laughs] which is just so funny.
[Alison and Caleb laugh]
Eric: Right? He’s a little jerk. He’s a little punk. He needs a talking to. He needs a timeout. Oh, man…
Alison: But this is honestly – on stage, too, going back to that – one of the best scenes. These are the scenes where Jamie Parker and Sam Clemmett just shine. It’s absolutely amazing how you just see them getting at each other, and the other one reacting, and one of them trying to throw in a jab, and the other one trying to deflect that but also throw in their own. And it’s so nuanced; it looks like an actual fight a parent and kid would have. I mean, everyone knows how that goes.
Eric: Yeah, that’s the type of dueling that I expected more of in this play. The wizard dueling, of course, they had to bring to the stage, but just the verbal dueling and the emotional characters between father and son and that stuff just seemed really cool. It’s exciting to read. You just really feel like there’s a lot at stake here between those characters.
Alison: And it’s so nice because [they’re] such human things at stake, which is a really core part of Harry Potter: that magic doesn’t necessarily cure everything. There are still these very human problems.
Eric: Yeah, for a moment it [has] nothing to do with magic.
Alison: And then we get into the first dream, which – I will be honest with you – seeing it on stage I got a little upset about because it’s replaying the hut on the rock scene but it wasn’t right. [laughs] And they don’t really tell you it’s a dream. I mean, it takes you a minute to figure it out, which is an advantage to reading the script [because] it [has] the header that says, “Dream.”
[Eric and Gina laugh]
Eric: I guess I can see how that would be helpful.
Alison: But I think it’s really interesting to see how Harry is remembering this huge moment in his life, and how that’s hitting into everything that happened to him afterward. We get the first whispers of this voice of Voldemort that’s going to show up, which, by the way, is really creepy.
Caleb: I really got chills reading it, so I can’t wait to see it.
Alison: They describe it perfectly, how it sounds.
Eric: Oh, good. I feel like it’s like a Disney 4D ride, where you get a wind on the back of your neck and your hairs stand up. That’s what it strikes me as, reading the stage direction.
Alison: Yeah, it’s very creepy because at first you almost don’t realize what it is, and then all of a sudden it’s like, “Oh, crap. We know that voice.”
Eric: [as Voldemort] “Harry Potter…”
Alison: So that happens.
Alison: That little thing. Whatever. NBD. We get a really lovely moment of seeing Harry and Ginny’s matured relationship, which I think is great to shut down anti-Harry/Ginny shippers.
Caleb: Ugh, no kidding. Say that.
Alison: Look, here it is. Beautiful. [laughs] Here’s Michael’s “Another!” Thor cup, right here.
Eric: [as Thor] “Another!”
Alison: It’s so wonderful. They just have so much honesty and equality and understanding in this relationship, where they just…
Caleb: It’s so easy for them. They’re comfortable with one another, and it’s everything I always imagined their relationship to be. It was so satisfying for me.
Eric: Harry does all the cooking.
Eric: “Oh, this? It’s Harry’s kitchen.” Or is that later?
Alison: That’s later.
Eric: Okay. “This kitchen, it’s not really fair to call it ours; it’s really Harry’s.”
Eric: Yeah, this relationship between them… I guess I still have such warm feelings about Year 6 Harry and Ginny. And that’s probably one of the things I’m most looking forward to, Alison, since you said on stage Poppy Miller really does a good job and is a good Ginny. I really look forward to seeing them relate in person.
Alison: And it feels very much like book Harry and Ginny. That’s actually one thing I really loved about most of the older characters, especially this core four. They feel very much like their book iterations, which is so refreshing when I think sometimes we get them confused with their movie iterations a little bit.
Eric: That’s fair. But it almost shouldn’t be as reminiscent of their book selves because they’re 19 to 22 years older.
Alison: Well, it feels like the book ones grown up, if that makes sense.
Alison: At their core they’re still themselves, but yeah, they’ve matured a little bit. [laughs] In fact, they’ve matured enough that they’ve started questioning Dumbledore’s advice to children, as we probably all should have.
Caleb: The ultimate sign of maturity in life.
Eric: There we go.
Alison: We’ve also said, “Wait a second, maybe we shouldn’t be telling kids this when they’re 11 and…” Oh well!
Eric: I like that Harry is still a Dumbledore apologist. We know what he went through, though.
Eric: We know his year of doubting in Book 7, and that makes the play [richer], that Harry is just like, “Well, what are you going to do? You believed that child was going to die to save the world. What can you do?”
Alison: I think, though, it shows that Harry has come to peace with that because he still respects Dumbledore but he also sees Dumbledore’s flaws, and he’s come to peace with being able to see that. And I think that definitely shows that Harry has maybe gotten over that initial anger he felt, finding out all of these things about Dumbledore. But then we suddenly switch to the train again, and Albus has a mission now. [laughs] And I think the really great thing about this scene is that we really see his motivation, which separates him, I think… because I think you can definitely read Albus in this as a brat, in a lot of ways. And he does do some bratty things and angsty things, but I think really seeing his motivation that he’s just trying to do the right thing… He just wants to set things right. And because he’s so mad at his dad, he’s decided – like Harry himself would – “All right, this person isn’t going to do what needs to be done, so I’m going to do what needs to be done.” And unfortunately, he does it very badly.
Eric: Well, I mean, he gets the news from Rose. And this is the weirdest thing – I guess maybe it makes sense that Harry and Albus aren’t talking – but they’re on the train and Rose comes up to Albus and says, “Your dad found a Time-Turner,” and just delivers the exposition and then walks away again. But apparently there’s a Time-Turner, and it obviously gives Albus this great hope, his purpose.
Alison: Yeah, and I think that it’s one of those things that is showing us just how actually alike Harry and Albus are [laughs] in more than just looks, in that he’s a reckless little guy, who’s just like, “All right, something that can be a plan of action. Let’s go.”
Eric: I like that.
Alison: “We’re not even going to think about it.” And it’s one of the things that endears him to me so much. He wants to do things right so badly that he goes about them in the wrong way, usually.
Gina: Again, like his father.
Alison: Good intentions. And then we get to the worst thing ever…
Eric: Whoa, whoa!
Caleb: I may be the only… well, maybe with Eric exclaiming, he agrees. I am totally fine with this. I enjoyed this.
Eric: Yes. Thank you.
Alison: No, guys. No.
Gina: Wait, no, how can you be fine with this?
Caleb: I loved it. I thought it was hilarious.
Alison: No. I love this show, and I think this is one of the biggest mistakes.
Eric: This is absolutely the funniest thing to me. The absolute funniest thing. People who love this show – they love so much about it – go, “The trolley witch: worst thing ever.”
Caleb: I laughed so hard.
Alison: Because it’s awful. It is horrifying.
Eric: You left it in this Document. Listeners at home, let me illustrate for you: In our show Doc, it is all caps…
Eric: … bullet point: “THE WORST THING EVER (the trolley witch).” I don’t get it. I’m fine with it.
Caleb: I loved it. I laughed so hard.
Gina: Wait, she can remember her employer’s name but she can’t remember her own name?
Eric: Well, she’s weird, okay?
Caleb: Because this is the weirdest thing in the Harry Potter universe. Please.
Alison: It’s so weird! And it took me completely out of the show.
Eric: Oh, come on! Really?
Alison: I mean, we were sitting at… No, it did! Because I was just like, “What the heck is happening?”
Alison: She starts growing spikes out of her hands. When did she become Wolverine? What is happening?
Caleb: I was loving it. This is for me why I just tell people, “If you go in and you embrace the weirdness, you will love this play.” That is all this is for me. I loved it.
Alison: No, it was too bizarre. It was utterly weird. [laughs]
Eric: No. For me, this completely informs the seven books in a really cool way. It adds something to the world, more than just “So-and-so sucks at being a dad [and] so-and-so sucks as a kid.” This is a little bit more fleshed out. You expect to read something about this on Pottermore. You expect to read something about this in the Encyclopedia one day. Again, this is just from going on the script, but it really feels like something that J.K. Rowling herself put in this play. Yeah.
Alison: But here’s my problem with it: It shouldn’t have been in this play, then. It should’ve been just extra information on Pottermore or something…
Caleb and Eric: No.
Alison: … because we could have cut this and we could have gotten a little bit more filling-in details later on of things that were a little bit more important to the plot of this play.
Eric: But the plot is so hole-y and terrible. They jump off the… no.
Alison: And we could have filled it in a little bit more!
Eric: They needed a way to excitingly, on stage, get away from the daily routine of going to Hogwarts, so they get on top of the train and they jump off.
Alison: They still could have done that.
Eric: Notice how the viaduct gets a mention; that’s strictly a movie-ism. And they just know that after they get to the viaduct, it’s only a short hike to the old folks’ home because we know all about maps and geography and where we’re going…
Eric: It’s all this bad. This play is all as bad as the trolley witch. All of it is just that bad, and the trolley witch is…
Caleb: I agree, but I think it’s also great. [laughs]
Eric: See, and then our differences in opinions… But I do like the trolley witch. I think it is canon compliant. I think it is absolutely plausible that something like this creature would exist in the world and would have been placed in charge of… Okay, maybe not spikes. I’ll meet you halfway.
Caleb: No, you’ve got to take it all, Eric. You’ve got to take it all. [laughs]
Eric: Okay, if I have to…
Gina: The spikes.
Eric: Fine, if it’s a question of taking it all or hating it. Saying it’s the worst thing in this play? Absolutely not. I love the trolley witch.
Gina: Well, where was she in Prisoner of Azkaban when the Dementors were there?
Caleb: Hiding, probably, like a smart person.
Alison: What? [laughs] What was she doing?
Eric: Yeah, Dementors are probably her Boggart. Seriously, though.
Alison: What was she doing when Death Eaters were jumping on the train in Deathly Hallows?
Eric: That’s a movie-ism.
Alison: No, that happened. They talk about that at one point, that Death Eaters are on the train.
Eric: At that point it was the government, right, that was involved? I don’t think she could have done anything about it.
Alison: Still, she seems to have no… [laughs]
Eric: No, here’s what I like about it…
Gina: She’s “never lost a child.” Well, obviously, she lost a few that year.
Eric: Yeah, that’s true enough.
Caleb: She probably takes it very hard. We should go easy on her.
Eric: No, I think I like the way that… Yeah, she’s clearly very disturbed.
[Caleb and Gina laugh]
Eric: I did think it was weird in the following… When Hermione is talking about her later, she’s like, “We couldn’t get an answer out of her. She just kept talking about how she disappointed her boss, who’s long dead.” And okay, it bothers me the trolley witch isn’t more coherent, and the fact that she just keeps repeating, “Anything off the trolley, dears?” She took the trolley up with her to the top of it. This had to have been amazing in the play.
Alison: No, it was weird! [laughs]
Eric: This had to have been absolutely the coolest thing ever, for the trolley to be with her on top of the train.
Alison: No! It was bizarre!
Eric: I can’t believe it. It doesn’t make any sense.
Caleb: Oh man, I love it.
Eric: But I like it. But I don’t mind the character’s existence. I think the way it’s written is confusing, right, a little bit? Why she’s still like, “Anything off the trolley?” until the very end when she’s able to give that monologue about her history, and then immediately she reverts to, “I failed! I failed!” and nobody can get a word out of her. Do you know what it reminds me of, honestly? It reminds me of human wizards who deal with goblins. There’s that disconnect and you can never quite be sure that you’re not getting cheated out of a deal. That’s what it reminds me of when Hermione talks about trying to get something out of the trolley witch. I’m just like, “This totally fits in canon, so I’m okay with it. This totally fits to me.” The trolley witch [is] a little weird, I will agree, but I love it. I’m sorry we’ve talked about this for… [laughs]
Alison: I will say, the one thing from this scene that I think totally fits is I thoroughly believe the twins and the Marauders tried to jump off the train before. Not even a doubt. I believe that. [laughs]
Eric: It’s just, where would they go? Unless they were all heading toward this old folks home, which is just around the curve from the viaduct…
Alison: No, they’re just going to go…
Caleb: Yeah, see, I’m not convinced that they would try to jump off the train just because I don’t know what they would try to be accomplishing for it. Everything they want is at school. Maybe.
Eric: Everything they want is at school.
Alison: Just to say they did it.
Eric: Yeah, maybe to say they did it.
Caleb: Yeah, I’d buy that.
Eric: But I like also… With the flying car, that’s another way they got to Hogwarts but it didn’t involve tricking the trolley witch.
Caleb: It works.
Eric: Yeah, it’s something new and unique and exciting. I would have liked to have seen ten more trolley witches in this play.
Caleb: This is the ultimate crazy character I have been waiting for. [laughs] I’m just so in love with it.
[Alison and Eric laugh]
Alison: Oh boy. Well, let’s leave her on the train, then.
Alison: [laughs] Let’s head back to the Ministry of Magic, where they’re having a grand meeting with Hermione and Harry breaking this news to everyone that weird things are happening. And our biggest thing here is we get our first big look at Draco, who has grown up a little, but he’s still a jerk. I will be honest; this play softened me toward Draco a little bit. I’ve never super liked him but I think a lot of things that happen in this helped me see him in a different light. Still not a huge fan because he’s still a jerk, but…
Eric: I think you could do it without putting upon more stuff. Draco can still be haunted by his past in the way Harry is haunted by his past. But Draco, in this play, doesn’t have any room for that because he’s haunted by all the new stuff that they’ve added, that Thorne and Tiffany have written in this bizarre rumor. And Draco is really having to come to Harry and say, “Could you do something about this rumor?” And it’s not really clear if Harry is even listening or if he’s interested in helping at all. Draco has turned to the government to help and they’ve turned him down.
Caleb: And let’s be clear how problematic it is that Harry doesn’t do… I agree with you, Eric. He’s setting it aside. Let’s not forget [that] Harry is alive because of Draco’s mom, so Harry could do a little bit more on his end.
Gina: But if you look at politics… I had a mayor recently tell me that I can’t make a comment on this issue because it’s like picking up the stick of dynamite. I think that’s what Harry was trying to say from a political standpoint. They can’t get involved politically in this thing.
Caleb: Sure, I buy that.
Alison: Well, and I also think it speaks to… Harry has had to deal with rumors in his life before, and if he’s just let them go by, they’ve worked themselves out. So that could just be Harry being like, “What’s your problem? Hasn’t this ever happened to you before?” [laughs] Harry can be thick like that sometimes.
Caleb: And part of it could be… even though I guess I don’t think Harry ever really says anything to admit this… but it’s probably [that] he deep down considers, “What if, in the odd chance, this is true?” That’s probably a pretty heavy thing to deal with, that he can’t really admit out loud.
Eric: I like to think that in the years following the Battle of Hogwarts, they would have looked into things like this a lot more seriously and basically covered their bases, really. Make sure that all of Voldemort was gone, [and] prevent this Time-Turney thing from being a plausible thing. If you can imagine… Harry is a bureaucrat, though. Moving on slightly, I have problems with Hermione in this scene, namely that she calls upon Professor McGonagall, who says that two particular items, Boomslang skin and Lacewing flies, were stolen from the store cupboards, but not enough to really do anything with. Hermione fails to recognize that those two ingredients are used together. And McGonagall also fails to recognize that those are two ingredients to make Polyjuice Potion.
Alison: I’m trying to remember, but I think Hermione… It’s not written, but I think she does react to that, if I’m remembering correctly.
Eric: That bothers me, then, because that’s even worse, isn’t it? That should put everyone in the Ministry on high alert. I understand even [a] casual Harry Potter fan who’s read all seven books won’t immediately go, “Oh, Lacewing flies… Polyjuice Potion, absolutely, 100%. Ding, ding, ding.” But these are supposed to, realistically, be characters who live and breathe and brew potions daily. And you’re telling me that that didn’t raise any red flags? At all?
Alison: Well, I bet it did, but I bet they weren’t thinking, “Who’s going to be out there using Polyjuice?” They don’t have anyone to think of that could get into Hogwarts.
Eric: Oh, come on. Really? “Well, I can’t name all the students at Hogwarts.”
Alison: Okay, but here’s the thing. That could get into… no, but they say it was before school started, which once again goes back to just how manipulative and masterful of a planner Delphi is that she started doing this early.
Eric: I’m not sure it was before school started. Or was it? Because Delphi at some point definitely broke into Hogwarts.
Alison: I’m pretty sure it says that it’s…
Eric: But I get confused on the timing as to whether… because I thought it was essentially a couple days into the start of term, isn’t it?
Alison: Yeah, this is still September 1, probably in the morning/afternoon.
Gina: Well, they’re not missing yet.
Eric: Okay. Interesting. But yeah, that’s the first part of Hermione where I’m just like, “That should have probably raised a few red flags.”
Alison: Yeah. And then we switch back quickly from the Ministry, once all that has happened, to a new place: St. Oswald’s Home for…
Caleb: The crazy people. [laughs]
Caleb: Which I’ve been waiting for.
Alison: I didn’t write down the whole title. [laughs]
Eric: … Senior Wizards? Come on!
Alison: It’s like a nursing home.
[Alison and Gina laugh]
Alison: Guys, let me tell you: This scene description did not get across how this scene actually on stage was a hallucinogenic-caused nightmare.
Eric: Oh God.
Alison: I’m telling you, it was like Dumbo‘s “Pink Elephants on Parade” but creepier. It was like every nightmare you’ve ever had from a TV show about a demented carnival. It was disturbing. [laughs] This scene description does not do that.
Eric: I like the way it’s written. I think it’s very interesting. It’s very interesting to me to see it be explored, what wizards who are losing control of their faculties but yet are still capable of magic would do, not only to themselves or each other, but to the help at a place like this. I found that extremely fascinating. Oh yeah, it is St. Oswald’s Home for Old Witches and Wizards.
Gina: Yeah, this was my “Trolley Witch” moment. You all think the trolley witch moment was great? I loved this moment right here.
Eric: [laughs] But seeing it might be terrible. Seeing it might be terrifying.
Alison: It was so creepy! [laughs]
Eric: I can see how this would be overdone.
Alison: I don’t know if it was just the music, or…
Caleb: Oh, I am so about that kind of scene.
Alison: There’s one witch just sitting on a couch with yarn coming out of her mouth.
Gina: What? Yes!
Caleb: It was weird and crazy. It was all of that.
Alison: It was so weird! It was just utter[ly] strange, and I was like, “What is happening?” [laughs]
Eric: That’s what actual worldbuilding looks like and feels like, I think.
Alison: I don’t know. It’s true. And I do agree it’s very interesting to see because I think that’s a stage of life we didn’t get in [the books] because the oldest person we knew was Dumbledore, and he was fine and healthy until he died. So yeah, it was just creepy. [laughs] So I’m sorry for everyone who enjoyed it. But anyway, they go and they talk to Amos again, and once again this hits on Albus’s motivation, where he loses a little bit of that righteous indignation because Amos basically smacks him down and calls him a kid, forgetting that Harry was 14 [and] his own son was only 17. A little bit of… maybe we should remember how old people were there. But of course, Delphi, master manipulator, is there to send his self-esteem right back up again and get him doing what she wants him to do, which is to break into the Ministry.
Eric: It’s interesting how she’s essentially playing herself in chess here, right? She says exactly what she’s supposed to to get Amos to let them go back and try and save his son. But the deck is stacked, and all sorts of other bad metaphors that I suck at thinking of right now. [coughs] Yeah.
Eric: The cards are all on her side.
Alison: And then we jump to this nice little dinner with Hermione, Ron, Harry, and Ginny. The biggest thing here… I really like this scene. I think it was a really sweet scene, but a lot of people have been complaining that Ron is really only there for comic relief.
Caleb: I can see where people think that. I thought about it a couple of times as I was reading, but I think in the end I’m okay with it because Hermione is really only there as the Minister. She’s definitely there as a parent; we see her worrying about… Her kids aren’t the ones missing, right? But she’s thinking about her kids [and] the greater danger, and also, this is her nephew that’s missing. But Hermione is just there as a figurehead, almost, and Ron isn’t fully integrated as maybe we would want him to be. But I don’t know. It didn’t bother me too much in the end.
Eric: “Oi droopy drawers, like I say to her all the time, it could be nothing. […] The trolls could be going to a party, the giants to a wedding, you could be getting bad dreams because you’re worried about Albus, and your scar could be hurting because you’re getting old.“ I don’t know. I think it’s irresponsible. [laughs] Honestly, I think he’s still “school-age Ron.” It’s the Ron that people [and] audiences everywhere will recognize, but there’s no growth there.
Alison: But that’s kind of nice.
Eric: There’s no realistic “Ron 19 years later” growth…
Alison: I think it actually speaks to a lot of who Ron is. Ron is less likely to deal with other people’s business if it doesn’t directly involve him, and this doesn’t directly involve him, necessarily.
Eric: Well, he’s never learned that something could be affecting the world in a very important way and could be affecting him or the ones he loves indirectly. If it’s not specifically in…
Alison: Yeah, but right now he doesn’t know that yet.
Eric: If Harry’s scar is hurting, I would like to think that most of the Ministry would be on high alert. They just had that meeting about it, but Ron is still “Oi droopy drawers”-ing.
Gina: I think that Ron has a little bit more to offer than what they portray in this play. I do feel like it’s a little too surface. I get that he’s supposed to be comfortable and confident in who he is now, but I think he’s just a little too aloof.
Caleb: I can agree with that. I definitely think that he had more to offer, sure.
Alison: Okay. I liked him. I thought it was nice to have a Ron who is done with his adventures and is just willing to live his happy life being a stay-at-home dad, working at the joke shop…
Eric: Telling dad jokes.
Alison: Life is good. Oh, Ron is the ultimate dad joke person, for sure.
Eric: Yeah, I believe that. I think I remember somebody saying about how Ron is a Gryffindor because it takes a lot of bravery to still put on a happy face or still tell jokes when it’s not necessarily a light time. Does that make sense? It’s brave to take the side of humor when so much is wrong with the world.
Alison: Yeah. And I definitely think Ron steps up when he needs to step up, but I think he has to be presented with something in his face to say, “Okay, time to step up.” And until then, he’s just going to live his life.
Caleb: Versus Hermione, who seeks it out actively.
Alison: Yeah, or Harry, who’s charging at it, even if it’s a mirage in the distance [and] not even something real.
Alison: And then we get into what is actually one of my favorite scenes because it was absolutely, hysterically funny: sneaking into the Ministry. Good to know the essence of the trio tastes all right. We knew that about Harry with his Polyjuice Potion thing…
Eric: “I smell fish.”
Alison: [laughs] The fish thing. All right. That’s interesting. Wouldn’t have thought of that, but okay. And then we get to this scene where they’re trying to block Harry and Hermione from getting into the office, and I have to ask, [is it] as funny on [the] page as it was on the stage?
Eric: No, I think this is something you absolutely have to see on stage because this is right where the action is picking up, right? You’ve had a lot of character building. You’ve had a lot of stuff. This is still [Part] 1 of [Act] 1, and this is where you start to see things you’re more familiar with, too, like taking Polyjuice Potion and breaking into the Ministry and just the mad dash of “Any moment now we might be caught.” I think it absolutely… And not to mention the music, which, Alison, I’d love to hear your thoughts on at some point in the future. But the soundtrack that this play is set to…
Alison: It was beautiful.
Eric: I can only imagine this experience is unreal in the theater, and the tension and the laughter of kissing your aunt and having to hold these people off… I think it probably played so much better onstage than in the script. In the script, all I can think about is how 22 years after the trio themselves Polyjuiced themselves and broke into the Ministry, nothing has changed. Absolutely nothing, security-wise, has changed. It would be like if Harry, Ron, and Hermione, after the seventh book, took a very long holiday, never got involved in wizarding government, [and] never confessed all the ways they were able to flout authority and actually save the world. Because nothing has changed. They break into Hermione’s office with Alohomora, for crying out loud! Alohomora!
Eric: It’s the first spell we ever see Hermione use to escape something.
Alison: Woo! It’s us!
Eric: It’s us! Yay, us! It’s terrible, though. Objectively, it’s terrible, right? That they get into the Minister for Magic’s office with Alohomora?
Alison: I will give you that.
Eric: It’s not by design. There’s been a giant hole in Hermione’s security and these 11-year-old children, yet again – what is it about 11-year-old children? – [have] managed to exploit it. It’s unrealistic. Objectively, it’s bad. I’m sure it looks great onstage.
Alison: Well, they’re 14.
Gina: Not only that, but the telephone box… Wouldn’t they have come up with something else by now? And why would the Minister of Magic go into the Ministry through the telephone box? That doesn’t make any sense to me.
Eric: When you think about next door Gringotts, and they have things like the Thief’s Downfall, which [washes] away all enchantments, and the trio themselves have seen that magic in use, wouldn’t they just try and adopt it and put it in more places to wash away all enchantments? And why is the telephone person so not confused, and immediately says, “Welcome, Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley”? There have to be some levels of security. Surely not in general, but following the Wizarding War – following Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s own time in the world – nothing in the exterior world has changed.
Alison: I think, though, it speaks to just how comfortable they’ve all become. I mean, that happens in our world too. You get far enough away from something like that and people tend to start forgetting.
Eric: Right, but what do you think they might have done immediately after, though? We’re talking in the months when they literally had to rebuild the government. What do you think they would’ve done? I like to think they would’ve fortified Hogwarts so someone like Delphi couldn’t just pop in. She doesn’t go there. She doesn’t even go here!
Eric: And how do you account for all of the lax [security]? You’re completely right, Alison. Over time people forget, and these children – I think it’s even said in this play at one point – have grown up not really even knowing the threat that once was. Hermione says that.
Eric: Okay, but the adults still remember the threat. The adults saved the world from that threat, and they over time…
Alison: But they’ve gotten comfortable in their safe world that they’ve created. And yeah, it’s been 22 years by this point.
Eric: So you’re seriously suggesting the magic wore off? That they would’ve surely put into place to prevent…
Eric: I like to [think] they’re…
Alison: But someone got annoyed by having to go through a bunch of extra security protocols when they were like, “Well, there’s nothing happening, so why do I have to do this?” So they started trimming them back, and then they trimmed them back a little bit more, and over time it ended up being at the point it is now.
Eric: So the TSA guidelines slowly allowing liquids back onto planes following 9/11… okay.
Eric: That’s as good a reason as I have ever heard about this topic, so I’ll take it. But Alohomora, though! Really, guys? Come on!
Gina: [laughs] There’s no excuse for that.
Alison: That was probably Hermione’s bad. We’ll give her that. [laughs] But I will say, one of the funniest lines I think I’ve ever heard is, “I want a baby! Or a holiday.”
[Alison and Gina laugh]
Alison: It was just so funny. It was so funny and so Ron, and it was great. So that’s one to look forward to for everyone who will see it.
Eric: Also, I hear the Polyjuice effect itself is awesome.
Alison: Oh, it’s so cool. We talk about it a lot on the bonus episode we recorded. [There’s] lots of using the robes and the capes, and it looked really cool. Another really cool thing is this weaponized bookcase. Guys, I want one! [laughs]
Eric: That’s very Hermione. Yeah, I like it mostly. What I don’t like about it is that the Magick Moste Evile book is on that bookcase and they got in there with Alohomora. And guys, that’s…
Alison: Is it the real one, though?
Eric: That’s the Horcrux book.
Alison: Yeah. Is it the real book, though?
Eric: Okay, fair question. But if it is, that’s way too irresponsibly dangerous, to have the book about Horcruxes – by which Voldemort learned basically how to make Horcruxes – just sitting on a shelf for a 14-year-old to take. That bothers me, but that’s a good question.
Alison: Well, there’s also a Time-Turner in that bookcase, so Hermione is not doing too great at keeping things very secure.
Eric: Well, we know it’s not a very good Time-Turner. I mean, as Time-Turners go. It’s just a prototype, right?
[Alison and Caleb laugh]
Alison: What did you guys think of the riddles, though? I’m very curious because when I first heard them I was like, “Oh, these aren’t the greatest riddles I’ve ever heard.” But reading them, I actually liked them a lot more.
Gina: I don’t know. I’m not good at riddles at all and I guessed all of them, so I was left a little disenchanted by them.
Eric: I get stumped easily. Riddles aren’t my bag. I still think that the sphinx riddle in Book 4 is a spider, but it’s a bat or something. I don’t really remember. Every time I reread Book 4, I’m like, “That sounds a lot like a spider,” but the answer is not spider, and I’m…
Alison: Yeah, it is.
Eric: Oh, it is spider? Maybe I’m thinking of something [else]. Anyway, I get confused really easily by riddles, so I made a very conscious decision when I was reading this to just go with the dialogue. “I’m not going to try and figure this out, and then when one of this new trio shouts it out, I’m going to be like, ‘Oh yeah, okay, that was it. Let’s move on.’” I didn’t try and solve it, otherwise. I read it so fast that I couldn’t be bothered by the fact that I am not very smart.
Alison: I don’t know. Maybe it was just some of the rhythm. The way it was presented just didn’t sit well with me.
Eric: It felt JKR-esque, right?
Alison: It does.
Eric: It’s a very Ravenclaw thing for Hermione to do. The Ravenclaw tower password is a riddle, and the sphinx riddle… so it seems like this bookcase is in good company.
Alison: And [in] Sorcerer’s Stone, the logic puzzle. That’s a very…
Eric: Yeah, so this bookcase is in good company in the Harry Potter world. And I guess one of the things I’d ask about… aren’t there hands coming out and reaching and pulling these people in?
Alison: Yes. It’s very cool. And it’s not really hands. It’s more like the books just come out and grab them, and it’s really cool.
Gina: That’s so awesome.
Eric: Like the Monster Book? Chomping on you?
Alison: A little bit, yeah.
Eric: Oh, I thought it was human hands. I would have liked that more. [laughs]
Alison: No, it’s more of… So when each of the books [gives] their riddle, you can tell it’s an actor in the bookcase with a puppet on their hand, basically, that’s making the book look like it’s talking.
Eric: I want a book puppet.
Alison: [laughs] And then those reach out and pull them in and it’s a very cool thing.
Eric: Sounds awesome.
Gina: I want that bookcase.
Alison: That one’s really fun, yeah. And then after much running in and out of books and changing back into themselves, they find this Time-Turner that we’ve heard so much about. And now, two kids – who are probably barreling toward something they shouldn’t be – and one very manipulative young woman have their hands on a very powerful thing that I honestly was not expecting them to touch on. But I think this is one of the good things about this being a collaborative story: JKR always said she wasn’t super fond of Time-Turners, but I think because she had other brains to help her work with them, it works quite well.
Eric: To prevent there being disaster, right?
Kat: Well, she just said she felt like she had painted herself into a corner, a bit, with Time-Turners.
Eric: Well, [it] makes sense, yeah. You can get out of any event that happens if Time-Turners are a real thing. You can undo it. So it’s dangerous to have those things. That’s why they were all destroyed. I don’t know. I view it as obviously this is what they wanted for the play, so that’s fine because that’s their decision and they all decided on it, but I don’t think there should be Time-Turners anymore. I think the fact that there’s not one secret Time-Turner but two secret Time-Turners that turn up in this play is ridiculously convenient, and I would be fine if there were no Time-Turners at all and this were just a story about Harry and his kid. Even without any time travel at all, I would have liked this play just fine. But it’s hard to say that because this is just Act 1, [and] the rest of this play is so hinged on Time-Turning and revisiting the past and manipulating and coming up with new weird tangents of time and space. And I actually have to say, for as negative or confused as I’ve said I am about this, I do think that the subsequent acts are a lot easier to read. Part 2, in particular, goes by really fast for me while reading. Act 1 is the one I get hung up on the most. I think it’s the weakest act because it’s setting up all the stuff and it clashes with what I agree should’ve happened, so I get hung up. The rest of the play, I think… [It’s] a lot easier being on this side of Act 1, to really enjoy the ride, so to speak, which I can only assume is… When you’re watching it on stage, it’s also easier to enjoy the ride.
Alison: Yeah, that’s true.
Eric: But I’m really glad that we are on the other side of it.
[Alison and Caleb laugh]
Alison: And now that things have been set up, we’re going to dive into all of the action because a lot is about to happen. [laughs]
Eric: Oh boy. Wow. Well, first things first, we want to thank our guest, Gina. Thank you so much for coming on this episode of Alohomora!
Gina: Thanks, guys! I had fun.
Alison: Good. And if you want to join us on our next topic, it will be, of course, Cursed Child Part 1, Act 2. We’re just going to keep moving along.
Caleb: And if you would like to be on the show as a guest host, then you should head over to the main site, where you can go to the topic submit page and suggest a topic for what we will discuss in the future because Cursed Child will be coming up for a couple of episodes but then after that we will be going back to topic-based episodes. All you need is a set of simple headphones, like Apple or something similar, and you are all set. No fancy equipment is needed.
Eric: And if you want to contact the show, there are several ways in which you can do that. We are on Twitter at @AlohomoraMN [and] on Facebook at facebook.com/openthedumbledore. Our website, if you don’t know it already, is alohomora.mugglenet.com. On that website we publish all our latest episodes, as well as comments and forums and all sorts of stuff for you to interact [with] especially over there. So check that out. And you can also send us an owl via Audioboom. Visit our main site, alohomora.mugglenet.com, and on the side of the page you will see where to submit your Audioboom. Please keep it under 60 seconds. We do listen to all of our Audiobooms and we like to include them on the show when and where we can.
Alison: And while you’re on our website, you can check out our Patreon. Remember, you can sponsor us at patreon.com/alohomora for as low as $1 a month, and we are so grateful to everyone who sponsors us and helps us keep the show running because you’re the reason we’re still here to talk about all this crazy stuff. But for now, we’re going to head out and go find our own Time-Turners. I’m Alison Siggard.
Caleb: I’m Caleb Graves.
[Show music begins]
Eric: I’m Eric Scull. Thank you for listening to Episode 200 – two hundo! – of Alohomora!
Alison: [as the trolley witch] “Anything off the Dumbledore, dears? Here are my spiky hands.”
[Show music continues]
Alison: Ooh, how am I going to do this?
Eric: Do it like Delphi.
Caleb: Do it like the trolley witch.
[Alison and Eric laugh]
Eric: [as the trolley witch] “Anything off the trolley, dears?”
Alison: Oh my gosh. Okay, okay. [as the trolley witch] “Anything off the Dumbledore, dears? Here are my spiky hands.”
Eric: Yes! Yes. This show is all about confronting your fears.
Alison: [laughs] I still hate it.
Eric: Alison, you’re my favorite person.
Alison: Aww. All right, there we go. There’s that.
Eric: We did it.