Last weekend, Emily and Kelli had the ABSOLUTE PLEASURE of attending the Broadway production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Parts I and II. Now, as promised, we offer you their spoiler-filled discussion of the play — just don’t tell JK Rowling, please. #KeepTheSecrets #UnlessYouHaveABlog
(SPOILERS TO FOLLOW. SERIOUSLY. DO NOT READ AHEAD IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS.)
Emily: Here's some BSG LORE.
Kelli: Long before we were ever a podcast, BSG was just a book club - a book club between two people. Us. It started because we wanted to read a book together. That book was actually a play: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Now, more than a year later, we're here.
Emily: Welcome to here.
Kelli: And we have seen the play. And we have seen all the things that we said were physically impossible when we read them as stage directions.
Kelli: And we must eat our words.
Emily: Yeah I mean, I still maintain that this would not work for like, a NORMAL production.
Emily: Like ye olde community theater is not putting this on any time soon.
Kelli: I mean, you could get artsy with it!
Kelli: Anyway - now seems like a good time to mention that plastered all over the outside of the Lyric Theatre was the hashtag #KeepTheSecrets.
Emily: Oh yeah... uh...
Kelli: We will not be doing that today. So, if you don't want the secrets spoiled, leave.
Emily: Here's the thing. The book has been out for a long time. I'm judging you if you haven't read it.
Kelli: I feel like the "secrets" are probably referring more to like, the way things looked in the production. The way the magic looked, etc.
Emily: Oh yeah... well... there are videos on YouTube. And also I don't know how they did any of that stuff. So I guess it's still a secret.
Kelli: So, I guess we should do a brief plot summary.
Emily: Yeah. Let's talk about this bonkers plot.
Kelli: So, it's 19 years later. It picks up essentially right where the epilogue left us. Albus is like, dad, what if I get sorted into Slytherin, and he's like, don't worry, it's not a big deal!
Emily: So it takes the dumbest part of the books and expands on it basically.
Kelli: Yes. To varying degrees of success.
Kelli: Obviously, Albus gets sorted into Slytherin, and it's kind of a big deal. He becomes BFFs with Scorpius Malfoy, also a Slytherin, and the two are basically the school outcasts - Albus because he's Harry Potter's son but got put in Slytherin, and Scorpius because there are rumors circulating that he's Voldemort's son. This friendship, and Albus' personality in general, creates a huge rift between Albus and Harry.
Emily: Harry's basically the jock dad and Albus is the nerdy kid.
Kelli: Well, it's SLIGHTLY more nuanced than that. Because the truth is that Albus and Harry are actually extremely similar, but both of them feel completely misunderstood by one another. Albus is basically Book 5 Harry.
Emily: True. But Albus sees Harry as the jock dad and he's the nerdy kid.
Kelli: Yes, definitely.
Emily: He hates Quidditch, for fuck's sake.
Emily: How dare he (jk I don't care about Quidditch)
Kelli: Anyway, we sort of quickly fly through Albus’ four years at Hogwarts and then settle in. The plot kicks off with the discovery of a now-illegal time turner, which the Ministry gets ahold of after busting Theodore Nott, ex Death Eater. Amos Diggory, now basically senile, finds out about the time turner, and visits Harry at home to beg him to go back in time and stop Cedric, his son, from dying.
Emily: You're doing great, Kelli.
Kelli: I'm just getting started.
Emily: I know.
Kelli: Amos' caretaker, a random bitch named Delphi who's apparently Amos' niece, is also present for this conversation.
Emily: And so is Albus. ON THE STAIRS CREEPIN.
Kelli: Albus is listening in on the convo, and Delphi finds him and gets all chummy with him. She's like, oh hey, I know what it's like to listen in on conversations, haha, I'm Delphi, aren't I cute? And Albus is like, *heart eyes*.
Kelli: Harry, for obvious reasons, tells Amos it aint happening. So Albus decides that what he needs to do is steal the time turner and save Cedric himself. Which is an extremely Harry Potter thing to do.
Emily: Yeah, Harry tries to be like "I never went looking for trouble," but I'm like "yeah ok dude"
Kelli: LOL right? Shut up, Harry.
Kelli: Anyway, Albus manages to talk poor Scorpius into going along with the plan. I'm not entirely sure if Albus wants to do this because he wants to get into Delphi's pants, because he wants attention, or because he truly believes it's the right thing to do, but I guess it's a combination of all three.
Emily: Yeah I think it's important to note he and Harry just had a falling out — where Harry basically tells him, "I WISH I WASN’T YOUR DAD." So IDK... he's feeling a need to prove himself, I guess.
Emily: Anyway, they go on a journey, blah de blah.
Kelli: Yep. Basically the rest of the plot involves them going back in time and trying and failing to save Cedric.
Emily: And coming back to weird alternate worlds, which was kind of fun.
Kelli: Yes. But in the second alternate world, the good side lost the Battle of Hogwarts and the Death Eaters rule the Wizarding World. Harry Potter died, and Albus doesn't exist. And that's where Part 1 ends. Part 2 is Scorpius figuring out how to go back a THIRD time and save Albus, which he manages to do with the help of a still-alive Snape. But once they're back in the present and everything is normal again, we find out that GUESS WHAT?
Kelli: DELPHI IS EVIL
Kelli: Why is she evil, Emily???
Emily: It's because she is Voldemort's child or some BS.
Kelli: This is where Emily insists the story is no longer canon. Delphi is the lovechild of Bellatrix and Voldemort and she wants to bring her dad back and bring the Dark Lord back to power.
Emily: Yeah that sounds like Fan Fiction. Like bad fan fiction.
Kelli: So she kidnaps Albus and Scorpius and takes them back in time with her to the night Harry's parents were killed. Luckily, the trio + Ginny and Draco figure out what's going on and they go back in time and find Albus and Scorpius, and then all seven of them group-kill Delphi.
All was well.
Emily: That took up most of the time we have to talk about this play.
Kelli: Bye everyone.
Emily: So I know we were kind of meh about this play when we discussed it way back when. Because the plot is kind of crazy, right?
Kelli: Yeah, it is. Especially the Voldemort's child thing.
Emily: Yeah I have a hard time with that obviously.
Kelli: I also have a hard time believing Cedric Diggory could be humiliated to the point of becoming evil.
Emily: Yeah, that is dumb.
Emily: So how did we feel seeing it on stage vs. reading it?
Kelli: It was a lot better on stage, for sure.
Emily: I was trying to work out why I even wanted to see this play so bad when I didn't really like reading it at all. Like, when I was in London and saw the theater where the play originated, I cried.
Kelli: I think we hold this franchise very close to our hearts. I think that no matter what they do to it, we'll always be there.
Emily: Yeah I will go see everything. And bring my wallet to buy merch.
Kelli: I'll even see a movie with Johnny Depp in it. For fuck's sake.
Kelli: But yeah, I think it really came together on stage. All of the things that were hard to picture or that seemed off when I read them worked a lot better than I thought they would. Obviously a lot of it has to do with the production value and the staging, but I think we can also credit the performances.
Emily: We should have had faith, but I read a lot of plays and used to have theater, so I was skeptical. I've also read a lot of crappy plays written by people who don't know how to write plays. So I know the signs. The quick scene changes are usually really bad news for a play — but because of the production value and such, they were able to make it work.
Emily: And yes, also high energy performances .
Kelli: And I think all of those quick scene changes at the beginning were really more part of one large scene. The school montage. Lol.
Emily: Yeah you just usually don't see montages like that in a play. It seemed corny reading it.
Kelli: Yeah. But it did work. And it did feel like time was passing.
Emily: Yeah, I think it's because they used real magic.
Kelli: What was your favorite magical thing on stage?
Emily: Man, it's so hard to say because it all looked really cool. You and I started a drinking game where we drank every time someone in the audience went "oooooh!" Thankfully, we started this in the very last half of the last play, so we are still alive.
Emily: I guess the polyjuice transformations were cool. And also like... how quickly actors moved from one part of the stage to the other AS IF BY MAGIC.
Emily: Look, it's probably like that scene in Interview with the Vampire where the theater of vampires is performing a play and everyone in the audience thinks it's fake but they really are killing people onstage.
Kelli: Or that time at Art Basel where a girl stabbed another girl and everyone thought it was a performance piece.
Emily: (I'm doing an Interview with the Vampire podcast ep with Everything Trying to Kill You tomorrow... SHAMELESS PLUG).
Emily: Yep, Hogwarts is real. We never got our letters. We are muggles. That's the only explanation.
Kelli: I accept it.
Emily: What was your fav magic?
Kelli: Well, for one thing it was really cool just seeing wands WORK in real life. Because we all have wands obviously (if you don't have a wand, what are you doing here). But to see the magic spark out of them in live action was pretty exciting.
Emily: Your wand doesn't do that? Awkward...
Kelli: Don't do this.
Kelli: The thing that blew my mind the most, I think, was the moment where Harry and Draco duel. They literally are performing matrix-like fight choreography, slow motion included, and it looks completely insane. I imagine they must have had very well-concealed wires lifting them up, but in the moment I was like, WHAT.
Emily: Wires, or magic is real.
Kelli: OH, and the DEMENTORS. I take it all back, the Dementors were the best part.
Emily: Yeah I didn't know if we were including that in the "magic." The Dementors were the coolest visual FOR SURE.
Kelli: They were so beautiful. And so scary.
Kelli: What else worked for you?
Emily: The acting was great. Even reading it, I really liked Scorpius as a character, but the actor, Anthony Boyle, was really good.
Kelli: He was my favorite. I mean, I think he's everyone's favorite.
Kelli: He has this sort of monologue, which we talked about, where he basically lays out for Albus all the reasons why Albus is a shitty friend.
Emily: That was awesome. Because literally all I want to do ever is tell people why they're shitty friends.
Emily: JK JK LOL
Kelli: But yeah, sometimes when someone goes off on a long tangent like that in a play, it's hard to believe that a person would actually speak like that in real life. But it felt incredibly natural.
Emily: Yes, monologues are super unrealistic but plays are full of them. Blame Shakespeare.
Emily: JK I don't know who invented monologues .
Kelli: Damnit Shakespeare, not again.
Emily: It's usually one of those things I think we just accept because, cool, it's theater that's what theater do. Sort of like when someone breaks into song. But sometimes it's nice when it feels like a real live tangent. And Scorpius seems like the type of character that would go on a tangent. It feels earned.
Kelli: Definitely. Especially since we've seen him be kind of pushed around by Albus for an hour already, and we've seen that all the things Scorpius is saying are true. But because we're supposed to be on Albus' side since he's our main character, these are all things that we've just sort of accepted until this moment. And then Scorpius lays it on him and we're like, oh right, Albus is awful.
Kelli: And I do think that's a credit to good writing as well. I think that despite some of the crazier plot machinations, the characters are really well-written. The adults, too. I think the trio is excellent and perfectly cast.
Emily: Yes, I'm so glad we got to see the original cast.
Kelli: Me too, they were awesome.
Emily: It felt special.
Kelli: It did.
Emily: Oh, I did say when we read the play way back in 2016 or whenever that the Albus and Scorpius friendship seemed a little queer-baity. But it didn't feel like that seeing it performed. I guess the way I read the lines in my head was way sexier than the way they were performed, lol.
Kelli: Yeah, I think I disagreed at the time when you and Mary were saying that.
Emily: There are some lines...
Emily: Like when Scorpius says something about not minding spending eternity with Albus. I can't remember the exact line.
Kelli: I get really pissed off when affection male friendship is interpreted as homoerotic - not because I have any problem with gay people or gayness in stories, but because I think it perpetuates the idea that men can't be affectionate in their friendships. Which I know you agree with.
Emily: Yes, I absolutely agree.
Kelli: But yeah, I do think performance has a lot to do with that. And I don't blame people for reading queerness into stories when we have so few queer stories being told.
Kelli: But also, Remus and Sirius is not a thing.
Kelli: IT'S JUST NOT.
Emily: Nope. It's not. Give up.
Kelli: One performance that I had a hard time with was Delphi. Because I really liked her when she wasn't evil — but once the character revealed her true intentions, the performance became very one-note.
Emily: Yeah I agree. Also her costume was less cool in the second part.
Emily: Just saying. She had to put on that shirt that showed her tattoo.
Kelli: I mean, the feathers looked pretty good though.
Emily: Yes it did. Very Mila Kunis in Black Swan. Which I am always here for.
Kelli: One last thing I want to mention: The music for this play was composed by Imogen Heap. And it was NOT. WORKING. FOR. ME. Y'all, I swear to god, she worked HIDE AND SEEK INTO ONE OF THESE SCENES.
Emily: I didn't notice it until you pointed it out and then when you said it was Imogen Heap that was all I could hear.
Kelli: I'm sitting there and I hear this whisper in the back of the music like "traiiiins aaaaand sewing machiiiiiines"
Kelli: And I was like ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME
Kelli: WHERE'S MARISSA COOPER
Emily: SERIOUSLY WHERE
Kelli: But on the whole, the score had the tendency to creep into like, contemporary inspirational territory. Sometimes it didn't bother me, but whenever the music swelled or tried to make me feel something, I could feel it trying to make me feel something. And not in a good John Williams way.
Emily: Also the choreographed dancing was strange.
Kelli: Oh yeah.
Emily: Because... it's not a musical.
Kelli: There was a lot of wand dancing.
Emily: There would be like, dance interludes. And Death Eater march dancing. It just felt out of place.
Kelli: It did. I feel like they could have found a better way to transition between scenes.
Okay, my last question: Did you cry? And if so, when?
Emily: I ALMOST CRIED. At the end. When Harry had to watch his parents die.
Kelli: That was rough.
Emily: And I almost cried because, wow, they actually cast a Lily and James WHO LOOK 21. IT CAN BE DONE.
Kelli: THEY WERE SO CUTE.
Kelli: MY HEART.
Emily: I KNOOOW 💔
Kelli: LILY AND JAMES IS MY OTP.
Emily: Ron and Hermione is my OTP forever. Like so hardcore.
Kelli: Well also them, yes.
Emily: This was a Ron/Hermione shipper's dream btw. Because in every timeline THEY BELONGED TOGETHER. And it was wonderful. My poor heart.
Emily: Anyway when did you cry?
Kelli: I cried when Harry was talking to Dumbledore's portrait. Which like, I love how complicated that relationship is.
Emily: Well he thought Dumbledore was infallible at one point and then he had to deal with the fact that he was human. Classic coming of age dilemma.
Kelli: Totally. The moment I cried was when Dumbledore said "There are some things death cannot touch. Paint, and memory, and love."
Anyway, I guess we should wrap this up. Is there anything else you wanted to add?
Emily: Yeah, I really loved it. And even though I didn't enjoy reading it, I knew I was going to love it.
Kelli: It made my heart feel full. And it made me want to do another re-read.
Emily: Everything makes me want to do another re-read. Let's start another podcast where we just re-read Harry Potter. I know other people are doing that already but who cares.
Kelli: To those of you on Twitter saying, "read another book": WHY SHOULD I?????
Emily: Yeah like... sometimes I'm reading another book and I just think to myself, "Why am I not reading Harry Potter right now?"
Kelli: "This is fine but Harry Potter is better."
Kelli: YA fantasy is forever ruined for me.
Emily: Oh for sure.
Kelli: Anyway, thank you for coming to visit me and spending a billion dollars to see this play.
Emily: Yes any time. I mean... not really cause I'm poor. But in my heart, any time.
Kelli: We met for the first time at Harry Potter world. So it seemed fitting that we saw this together. LOVE YOU.
Emily: Yes I LOVE YOU MY HARRY POTTER BB
Kelli: YOU'RE THE RON TO MY HERMIONE AND THE HERMIONE TO MY RON.
Emily: SO TRU