There are moments in The Year of Magical Thinking when you might forget you are at a play.
Chalk it up in part to Lucille Arrington Keller’s spellbinding performance, but also understand this: the opening lines of the play tell the truth of why the subsequent 90 minutes sink so deep inside of us. Because the story she tells really will happen to each and every one of us, one day. The details will be different, as she says, but it will happen just the same.
The people we care about, the people on whom we depend, and the people who depend on us, will be taken from us.
The play tells the true story of the year in which author Joan Didion lost not only her husband but also her daughter. It was a year in which she learned many unexpected — yet universal — truths about the grieving process.
We understand these things happen, but we don’t expect they’ll happen to us.
Until they do.
The setting of the play is simple, the cast is one actor, alone on stage, but the words hit home and they hit hard.
Like the best works of the classic blues musicians, this is a song that mourns but does not whine. It tells the truth of what happens to a person who is used to being in control when control is swept out from under her, not all at once, but bit by bit.
She is a writer. She understands language and how a story is structured. As a result, she believes that by understanding the story, by playing along with the story, she can alter the outcome.
This is a magical story indeed, on many levels, and it found the right hands and heart in director Sharon Graci. There is much that can be said about PURE Theatre’s ongoing success, but this is perhaps the most important: They care deeply about what they do and it shows.
Special congratulations are in order for Keller, who, in her first production with PURE, knocked it out of the park. One-person plays require extraordinary talent and dedication to pull off successfully, and this one absolutely succeeds.