The Year of Magical Thinking

Liz Neerland

Author Joan Didion faced double tragedies in the early 2000s. At the end of 2003, her husband of nearly 40 years died of a heart attack while at the dinner table. At the same time, their daughter Quintana was in the ICU, near death. And while she would appear to recover, she would follow her father in 2005. Didion examined her husband's death in the now-classic memoir The Year of Magical Thinking, while a one-person adaptation extended that to deal with the death of their daughter. Speaking with typical reportorial detachment, Didion follows the months she attempted to deal with the deep trauma of losing her husband while also hoping to hold on to her daughter. The work offers tremendous challenges for the performer, as the emotions in the hour-long piece are kept so close, but veteran Barbra Berlovitz masterfully takes the audience on Didion's journey. Don't expect any massive epiphany or rafter-rattling histrionics. Berlovitz's performance remains true to Didion's cool but devastating prose, whether it's describing the author's inability to give away her husband's shoes (what would he wear if he came back?) to riding cross-country on a medical transport to take her daughter from Los Angeles to New York, all the while hoping the worst had passed but being honest enough to know it hadn't. Berlovitz, along with director Liz Neerland, crafts a heartbreaking piece of theater that should not be missed. $10-$15. 1517 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612.548.1380. Through May 21

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