Thursday, 11 September 2008

The Year of Magical Thinking

To see the incomparable Vanessa Redgrave on stage at Bath's Theatre Royal in the National Theatre's touring production of The Year of Magical Thinking. Redgrave delivers a tour de force in her rendering of the great American journalist and essayist Joan Didion's extraordinarily moving and profound account of the grief she endured when her husband and collaborator John Gregory Dunne died in December 2003, followed 18 months later by her 39-year old daughter Quintana.

The 90-minute monologue demands your full attention with David Hare's spartan direction. But that is no hardship with Redgrave moving from memory to guilt, from hope to despair, in a flawless and unflinching account of the horrors of coping with bereavement. Writing the memoir and play were clearly a cathartic process for Didion. She didn't want to believe the two people she loved the most had died; for a long time, she wanted them to reappear, hence the title of the play. This is a production not to be missed.

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