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THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING Irish Classical Theatre Company/virtual
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Apr 14, 2021, 13:06
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Through April 25
THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING Irish Classical Theatre Company/virtual

This is a time of death, as the long COVID pandemic continues to expand its toll.
Joan Didion’s “The Year of Magical Thinking,” is about a personal time of death, husband, daughter and endless time in hospitals.
After Didion’s novel of the same name appeared, she turned her story into a one-woman show, a master class in telling a story, at least when you can get someone to tell the story in the long sweep of a solo performance.
The story is clearly an attempt at catharsis, although you do wonder how cathartic the novel and the play actually are.
There’s a certain lack of emotion, of refusal to demonstrate the mental scar tissue which has to be there somewhere, that continuing “magical thinking” which seems to keep her from jumping off the top of some Manhattan high-rise, slouching into a fated old age.
That’s really the flaw in both the book, which I have read, and the play.
For Irish Classical’s virtual production, Victoria Pérez is wonderful in this tale of a woman who refuses to be beaten down by a dreadful time of life.
Perhaps, that mental attitude is the result of being in two fields notorious for beating on people, writing and moviemaking.
She and husband John Gregory Dunne were stars in the literary world, books and magazine articles and in Hollywood, as script writers and producers for some really hit movies, like “Play it as it Lays” and “True Confessions.”
They did this from luxury quarters in LA and then from a palatial spread in that Tinseltown land of palaces, Malibu.
Finally, they moved to luxury quarters in Manhattan and that’s where we find Joan and John, as they shuttle to the hospital where daughter Quintana Roo is in desperate shape in the hospital.
As they sit in their place and talk about dinner, John slumps over at the dining room table, dying suddenly.
Think about how you would handle that double hit, daughter and husband.
She watches as he EMTs try to keep her husband alive before taking him to be declared a DOA in a fancy Manhattan hospital and returns home to the detritus of emergency care and dying on the dining room floor
Quintana Roo recovers, gets married and gets sick again and eventually dies.
In these times when many of us have quickly lost friends, relatives, co-worker to COVID and death, Didion’s work makes us rethink life and most of us would certainly be more affected by tragedy.
Pérez makes us think about that, even as Didion separates the awful things which are happening to her from the intellectual re-telling of the decimation of her family.
“The Year of Magical Thinking” is a fascinating look at a personal time when things go bad, in a time when the obit page can be very scary.
“The Year” is also one of those fascinating shows where one person holds it all together, here under strong directing from Kyle LoConti and good camera work from Pan-American Film Division.
Know going in this is a harrowing story but watch this tragic tale and a strong one-woman performance.

A.W.

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