The Year of Magical Thinking -- Thought Provoking
By Bob And Karen Isaacs
KAREN: Maureen Anderman is giving a bravura performance in the one-woman show The Year of Magical Thinking now at Westport Country Playhouse.
BOB: This is based on Joan Didion’s memoir of the same name about the sudden death of her husband and the serious illness of her daughter. And how she copes with the devastation.
KAREN: She addresses the audience directly reminding us that while we may not have experienced something like this, we definitely will.
BOB: She starts by recalling her husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne’s fatal heart attack in their New York City apartment on December 30. Simultaneously their daughter is in medically induced coma for septic shock.
KAREN: This allows her to go back and forth in time. She recalls scenes that occurred years earlier with her husband and her daughter in California and Hawaii. At times she drops some important literary and Hollywood names. After all Didion and Dunne wrote the scripts for a number of films including “A Panic in Needle Park”, Barbra Streisand’s “A Star is Born” and others, in addition to the multiple novels and articles Didion has written on her own.
BOB: She talks about trying to control the situation. One of the most poignant moments in the play is when she is calling the Los Angeles Times to tell them of her husband’s death and wonders if it has actually occurred in LA since there is the three hour difference.
KAREN: This is what she refers to as “magical thinking” -- the idea that -- if only...everything will be all right.
BOB: You will marvel at the ability of Anderman to present the litany of the year, pointing out all the details. Anderman mines the emotion in the piece without sinking in maudlin sentiment -- after all one of the ER doctors characterized Didion as a “cool customer.” She tries to maintain image.
KAREN: This piece will remind you of the fragility of life and that savoring each moment is a good idea.
BOB: Nicholas Martin directed this piece with a deft hand. A Year of Magical Thinking is at Westport Country Playhouse through June 30.
This review appeared on WHNU-88.7 fm and www.wnhu.net.