The Year of Magical Thinking Fades Into Memory Aug. 25

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25 Aug 2007

Vanessa Redgrave in  <i>The Year of Magical Thinking</I>.
Vanessa Redgrave in The Year of Magical Thinking.
Photo by Brigitte Lacombe

The world premiere of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, starring Tony and Academy Award winner Vanessa Redgrave, concludes its limited Broadway engagement Aug. 25.

Adapted from Didion's best-selling memoir, The Year of Magical Thinking paints a vivid and heartfelt picture of a family dissolving while Didion struggles to maintain security through her grief and memories. Didion relives the death of her husband of 40 years, writer John Gregory Dunne, as the couple sat down for dinner in their New York City apartment.

Complicated by Didion's ailing comatose daughter, Quintana, who Didion would also lose, the events of one night — and the year that followed — are recounted in a candid and intimate manner.

For most of the 90-minute intermissionless play, Redgrave sits in a chair, playing Didion as physically inert but soberly intelligent. Bob Crowley's scenic design mainly consists of layers of gray, abstract curtains, which slowly shed away behind Redgrave as if to indicate the peeling away of episodes in this overcast part of Didion's life.

With the closing of The Year of Magical Thinking, only musicals are playing on Broadway until the September arrival of Manhattan Theatre Club's production of Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck.

The 24-week limited engagement was directed by David Hare, and designed by Bob Crowley (sets), Ann Roth (costumes), Jean Kalman (lighting) and Paul Arditti (sound).

Vanessa Redgrave was Tony nominated for her portrayal of Didion in The Year of Magical Thinking, she won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Solo Performance. Redgrave is a Tony winner for her performance of matriarch Mary Tyrone in Long Day's Journey Into Night, and earned an Oscar for her performance the film "Julia."

"The Year of Magical Thinking" proves to be Didion's best-selling work to date, with over 600,000 copies sold. Among her canon of works are: "Slouching Towards Bethlehem," "Where I Was From," "A Book of Common Prayer," and "Play It As It Lays." Didion collaborated with her late husband, John Dunne, on the screenplays for "Play It As It Lays," "True Confessions," "Up Close & Personal" as well as "A Star Is Born" with Barbra Streisand. The Year of Magical Thinking marks Didion's debut as a playwright.

The Year of Magical Thinking was produced on Broadway by Scott Rudin, Roger Berlind, Daryl Roth, Debra Black and The Shubert Organization with executive producers Stuart Thompson and John Barlow.

Upon its closing The Year of Magical Thinking will have played 23 previews and 144 regular performances.