Friday, March 30, 2007

'This will happen to you,' says Joan Didion

Charles McNulty reviews the adaptation of Joan Didion’s book, The Year of Magic Thinking, into a stage play.

It does not seem to be the usual Broadway fare as the retelling of Didion’s grief in the year following the death of her husband has a naked candor:

McNulty records the scene and some of the words from the Didion reenactment by Vanessa Redgrave:

Didion, Hare [producer] and Redgrave have approached their task with a stark Beckettian determination. Stillness rules a set marked by a solitary wooden deck chair and hanging canvases of abstract patterns in muted colors that change with falling dropcloths. Nothing extraneous is allowed to distract from the ensuing trance-like contemplation.

A vision of white and gray, with her hair pulled back to reveal a pair of blue eyes that stare out with an oceanic intensity, Redgrave resembles a mythological figure who has traveled to a place of total darkness and filed a report for our collective enlightenment.

“This happened on December 30, 2003,” she says, naming the date when Didion's husband died of a heart attack while seated in the couple's New York apartment with a second pre-dinner drink. "That may seem a while ago, but it won't when it happens to you. And it will happen to you. The details will be different, but it will happen to you. That's what I'm here to tell you.”

Source: For the entire review see Charles McNulty, Redgrave’s Séance of ‘Magical Thinking, LA Times March 30, 2007.

Image: Vanessa Redgrave