A journey through grief at Baxter

Picture: Lungelo Mbulwana

American writer Joan Didion’s play, The Year of Magical Thinking, based on her memoir and starring Dorothy Ann Gould, directed by Mark Graham Wilson, will make its Cape Town debut at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio until Saturday July 28, at 7.30pm.

The Year of Magical Thinking is a journey through one of the most universal experiences of human suffering: bereavement.

It chronicles the year following the death of Didion’s husband, John Gregory Dunne — an unexpected and sudden end of a 40-year partnership — just days after their only child, Quintana, had fallen dangerously ill and slipped into a coma.

Faced with the unshakable finality of John’s death, Joan’s normally rational thought processes took a less than pragmatic turn. She found herself, for example, keeping his shoes, reasoning that he would need them when he returned.

Slowly she had to recognise that, although she was going through the motions associated with the rituals of closure, she was, in fact, longing to perform an impossible trick: to bring John back.

Her memoir is the story of the year she spent wishing — her year of magical thinking. During the New York promotion of the then recently published memoir, Quintana became seriously ill again. Following massive brain surgery, she died at the age of 39.

Six months after her second tragedy, Didion began working on turning her memoir into a play. This time she was dealing not only with the loss of her partner but with the loss of her entire immediate family.

Bookingisthrough Webtickets or selected Pick * Pay stores. There is an age restriction of 13. Ticket prices range from R120 for performances until Saturday July 7 and block-bookings, R160 (Monday to Wednesday) and R180 (Thursday to Saturday).