‘Year of Magical Thinking,’ in review

Joan Didion’s artful, introspective journey through a life-changing year unfolds in memoir form through Sunday on the intimate Upstairs @ the Henegar stage.

Performed by professional actress Anne Kraft, the two-act, one person monologue is an etude on letting go. The memoir begins at the moment when Didion’s husband, John Gregory Dunne, dies suddenly.

“You sit down at dinner and life as you know changes,” she says.

What ensues is the author’s so-called “year of magical thinking” when she thinks strange thoughts, such as not throwing out her husband’s shoes because he might need them when he returns. And why not, she muses: “Primitive cultures rely on magical thinking.”

As she grapples with her husband’s death, she must also deal with the reality of her sick daughter, Quintana, hospitalized and in a coma from septic shock

Kraft portrays Didion as a woman who works tightly to hold it all together. Indeed, she tells us about the bargains she makes with fate. Through Kraft’s portrayal, we see Didion as the smart, elegant “everywoman” who deals with life’s realities with insight and grace.

But the work we see here is not theatrical in nature. Indeed, given the literary nature, we are left wondering why Kraft did not present “The Year of Magical Thinking” as reader’s theater. It is an ideal candidate for that genre.

Nevertheless, Kraft’s presentation reveals the exquisite, poetic quality in Didion’s 2005 memoir while her sensitivity to and respect of the work heightens that evocative appeal.

SIDE O’ GRITS: “The Year of Magical Thinking,” 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Henegar Center for the Arts, 625 E. New Haven Ave., Melbourne. Performances are in the small upstairs venue. general, seniors. Call 321-723-8698 or visit

1 Comment

  1. Thank you so much for coming to see Ms. Kraft in “The Year of Magical Thinking”. As the local Stage Manager, I have enjoyed working with this talented actress and helping her to fit this production to our new black box theatre Upstairs at the Henegar. Christine Fogarty of A Classic Theatre in St. Augustine who directed Anne Kraft’s portrayal of Joan Didion may also be interested in your comments.