Monday, May 4, 2009

Throwing Stones in Gingerbread Houses

Now as someone who grew up thinking that they probably-weren't-but-might-just-be a vampire, it is strangely gratifying to see Bloodsuckers trumping Spell-casters in the zeitgeist hit parade. Although I remain leery of mirrors after dark, I still enjoy charting the success of those Twilit characters who are brazenly "out of the crypt" and serving as role models for the hitherto reluctant undead.

Sadly for my craven brothers and sisters, it seems a new moon has dawned over New York. For the past week it's been witches everywhere I turn - and not young, perky, OWL-studying ones either. In The Witch's Trinity, hunger turns the inhabitants of a German village against each other, and once you're accused of witchcraft the only way out is via a burning pyre. More prosaically, the play Gingerbread House presents a mother who sells her disappointed children, and is branded a witch when she decides she wants them back.

While Erica Mailman's book played into my obsessive Horrible History reading habits (I can, to this day, recite a dozen authentic tests of witchcraft, none of which involve a duck and a pair of scales), the play's magic was a little dark for me. When the ghostly illuminations of the missing children stopped hinting at the horrors they were enduring, and started openly describing their abuse, the spell was broken. For anyone who's ever worked on a misery memoir it felt like the grimiest sort of busman's holiday. In contrast, even the fetid atmosphere of Transylvania felt like a breath of fresh air.

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