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A Witch's Craft

July 28, 2001

Michael Phillips, in his review of the Malibu Stage production of "The Lady's Not for Burning," refers to Camillia Sanes, who plays the alleged witch, as doing an "ooga-booga supernatural bit that's pretty stupid" ("Costumes a Mixed Bag in 'Lady's Not for Burning,"' July 19). I would contend that it's not quite as stupid as Phillips' not realizing that, after spending three acts exonerating the characters from charges of witchcraft, the "ooga booga" is intended to implant the idea that she may be a witch after all. A perfectly legitimate directorial touch intended to force an audience to reassess everything that has come before.

His complaint about the diversity of costumes ("It's all a bit self-conscious, this century-scrambling costume design") appears to ignore the fact that "century-scrambling costume design" has been a staple of classical productions since the 1950s, most notably in the work of Tyrone Guthrie. And self-consciousness is precisely the object of the exercise: to make both characters and audienceconscious of the identity of medieval characters by employing visual parallels from various periods.

As usual, Phillips takes the "once-over-lightly" approach to reviewing that fills the allotted column inches but does nothing to enlighten the reader or fairly assess the play under consideration.

CHARLES MAROWITZ

Malibu Stage Company

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