One woman’s tragedy comes to California Stage next month.
“The Year of Magical Thinking” by Sacramento born novelist Joan Didion is a stage adaptation of her distinguished memoir on the untimely deaths of her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne, and their daughter, Quintana Dunne Michael. Her book won the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
“I was at the table making a salad,” she recalled. “John was talking about either World War I or the Scotch he was drinking when he suddenly slumped over.”
Didion thought he was making a joke about being dead-tired after their difficult day, but he was having a fatal heart attack.
Didion’s script is poetic in its bluntness, its seeming detachment and its unavoidable truth. This one-person play about describes how she dealt with the deaths of her husband and daughter within a few months and how she managed to persevere in the midst of crushing grief.
“Although the main focus of this play is on Didion’s struggle with grief, it does not mean there aren’t any laughs,” California Stage Artistic Director Ray Tatar noted. “Her experience includes odd flashes of humor and insight such as when her own magical thinking tells her she cannot give away her husbands shoes because he would need them when he returned.”
The California Stage production will star Drama Desk Award Nominee Janis Stevens, a member of Actors Equity. She has been seen at California Stage as Hester in “By the Bog of Cats,” in the title role of “Becoming Julia Morgan,” for which she won an Elly Award for Best Dramatic Actress, and as Vivien Leigh in “Vivien,” for which she received a 2006 Drama Desk nomination for Outstanding Solo Performance for the Off-off Broadway production.
“The Year of Magical Thinking” plays from Oct. 26 through Nov. 25 in the Dennis Wilkerson Theater at the R25 Arts Complex, 1721 25th St. at 25 and R streets in Midtown Sacramento. Show times are 7 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays. Ticket prices are $25 for general admission, $20 for military, students, SARTA members and seniors, and $15 for groups of six or more. Easy free parking available. No late seating. For reservations call (916)451-5822 or order online at CalStage.org.