ACT Theatre Downtown
July 19–Aug 11
Joan Didion is a near-magical force on the page—muscular, cold, and brilliant. The Year of Magical Thinking is a nervy and raw look at the way grief messes with you, and an indirect portrait of a scattering mind. It justly won a National Book Award. The text of the play is arguably better than the text of the memoir. But after seeing this production at ACT, I'm starting to think this material just doesn't work as a play. "You long for the director to figure out the dramatic contours of the monologue better and make them work as theater," I wrote back in 2009, referring to Sarna Lapine's direction at Intiman. The director at ACT is the eminently talented Victor Pappas, but his production of Magical Thinking left me feeling the same way.