Teachers appear more tired on some days than on other days. I presume they are tired of breathing in a smell emanating from students who trooped in after an hour of playing in the sun. They might also be tired of the boring reading material, from standing all day in classrooms without power. On such a day, my English teacher declared a Free Period and asked us a question:
“If you could be anyone else right now, who would that be?”
When it was my turn, I said, “Hermione!”
Back in 2002, who is to say Hermione wasn’t real? I was almost convinced I was her – bookish, bushy hair, not very endearing.
Now that the eighth book in the Harry Potter series is finally out, it felt appropriate to revisit a childhood that was held in thrall by a book about an unremarkable boy to whom extraordinary things keep happening. Okay, okay, it’s not a book, it’s the rehearsal script published in hard cover. There was a game we used to play – you had to hold a walking stick between your thighs and do your best approximation of flying or haphazard jumping, while you fought off enemies with spells. Years later, I discovered this was a game people took seriously – students at my university formed teams and played Quidditch. They played Quidditch on the ground of course. We do live in a world of self-driving cars, but humans haven’t started flying on broomsticks just yet. I must admit I did not enjoy the trivia game as much, partly mostly because I always lost to my brother. He was magnificent – you only had to read part of a sentence and he’d tell you which of the seven books it was from.
Harry Potter and The Cursed Child is set nineteen years after the last great battle. We get to see what everyone’s done with their lives since we last met them, and we also get to see how their lives would have been in alternate timelines. The story follows Albus and Scorpius, who are friends, unlike their fathers. Albus resents the mythical figure his father’s become, and Harry isn’t winning any awards for parenting either. He fails to understand his son or establish a connection with him. The usual threat of Voldemort resurfacing remains, this time through the daughter we didn’t know he fathered. It is interesting that the stigma of being in Slytherin seems to have been addressed – Albus and Scorpius are sorted into Slytherin house, but they are both loyal and brave. The wizarding world has moved on, while still dealing with the repercussions of what transpired all those years ago.
I found it distracting to read the script though. I kept wondering if the actors were required to learn magic tricks. And how would they pull off the traveling with Floo powder, the telephone booth that leads one into the Ministry of Magic. The last time I read the script of a play, I was Catherine Petkoff in an abysmal production of Arms and the Man. It is a memory I sincerely try to not recall – the echo of my voice calling out “Raina! Raina!” as I walked across what was supposedly the bedchamber makes for some unpleasant reminiscing.
I am curious to see where the Harry Potter franchise goes from here. Will it allow for numerous spin-offs and interpretations? Will it allow for revisionist reimagining? Must we continue to milk it till it we can no longer relish it? I can’t say I liked Harry Potter and The Cursed Child. But then, nostalgia is a powerful thing that sits pretty on your bookshelf.
I might still want to be Hermione.