The Year of Magical Thinking
Performed by Linda Purl
North Coast Repertory Theater
Showing Through January 23, 2018
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Article by Cathy Breslaw
Have you ever thought that if you hoped for something enough or performed the right actions that an undesirable event could be averted? The Year of Magical Thinking performed by Linda Purl at the North Coast Repertory Theater explores this idea. Based on author Joan Didion’s book by the same name, this one-woman play recounts the year after the sudden death of her husband John Dunne and the subsequent illness and death of their only daughter Quintana. The intimacy of this small theater and a packed audience provided a fertile backdrop for actress Linda Purl to unfold this difficult real-life story about tragedy, loss, and grief. Purl’s performance follows the perspective and character of the author as expressed in the book – one of detachment with few expressions of raw emotion. Instead, Purl’s character is haunted by questions concerning the medical details, the possibility that he sensed his own death, and how she could have made his time alive more meaningful. As she wrestles with grief, she reviews fleeting memories and past conversations with John as well as talking about her daughter’s complications with pneumonia and hospitalizations, further compounding the course of her grief. Purl’s portrayal is a conversation with the audience, a personal account of the complexities and depth of loss her character experienced, reminding us to be grateful and conscious of the moments we have with loved ones and how we can feel more alive. The Year of Magical Thinking is a short 2-night performance, directed by Jenny Sullivan, with Artistic Director David Ellenstein and Managing Director Bill Kerlin.