Sunday, November 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Stevens shines in ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’

Janis Stevens stars in “The Year of Magical Thinking,” which plays through Nov. 25 in the Dennis Wilkerson Theater at the R25 Arts Complex, 1721 25th St., in Midtown Sacramento. Courtesy photo

By
From page A9 | November 06, 2012 |

What: ‘The Year of Magical Thinking’

Where: Dennis Wilkerson Theater at the R25 Arts Complex, 1721 25th St. (25th and R streets), Sacramento

When: 7 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays, through Nov. 25.

Tickets: $25 general, $20 students, military, SARTA members and seniors

Info: 916-451-5822

The recipe for an instant five-star production in the Sacramento area: cast Janis Stevens.

I have seen Stevens in several productions — including one-woman shows “Master Class” and “Vivien” — and she now adds another stellar performance, playing Joan Didion in Didion’s stage adaptation of her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “The Year of Magical Thinking.” The play is currently at Sacramento’s Wilkerson Theater (formerly California Stage), under the impeccable direction of Ray Tatar.

Didion’s husband, author John Gregory Dunne, suddenly died of a heart attack one night as she was mixing the salad for dinner. The play details her travel through grief during that first awful year, a year in which her daughter also was dying of many infections in many hospitals (she finally did die the following year).

“This happened on Dec. 30, 2003,” the character begins the play, staring out into the audience. “That may seem a while ago, but it won’t when it happens to you. And it will happen to you. The details will be different, but it will happen to you. That is what I’m here to tell you.”

As her husband lay on the floor of their apartment being attended by paramedics, Didion took charge. She got the paperwork in order, she followed in a second ambulance to the hospital — the “wrong” hospital, she notes, planning to move him as soon as he was stable. She stood in line to fill out paperwork. She took charge.

But he was dead. She knew he was dead when she had a social worker assigned to her, but in her mind she felt that if the doctor didn’t say the words, maybe her husband wasn’t really dead. She demanded answers from the physician. The social worker gave him permission to give her the facts. “It’s OK,” he said. “She’s a pretty cool customer.” She was cool on the outside. Inside she was crumbling, but she coped. She took charge.

Life changes in an instant an ordinary instant

I don’t know what experiences Stevens may have had with personal loss, but she nailed the emotions of someone trying to make sense of something that makes no sense. Whether she is cool and calm, talking about moving from day to day, alternately making arrangements for burying her husband, and then visiting her dying daughter, or whether she allows herself to crumble, briefly under the weight of so much pain, it is a journey that those who have been through themselves will find very familiar.

She admits that she sounds crazy when she can’t give away her husband’s shoes, even weeks after his death (though she has given away bags and bags of his clothing), because when he comes back he will need shoes.

If she corrects an error in the galleys of his book, completed shortly before his death, will he be upset with her?

A grieving person straddles two worlds, the real one in which she lives, and the magical one in which somehow, the deceased is still present and may be coming back. Stevens handles this dichotomy beautifully, its symbolism represented by the yin-yang design on the stage floor.

The set design by Ken Kurtis is stark, but the sweeping design painted on the walls neatly suggests the “vortexes” that a grieving person goes through during their year of magical thinking, trying to find a way to the “new normal.” Grief comes in waves, at times when you least expect it. You may think you’re doing fine and then the memories flood in and you have to deal with them. For someone like Didion, for whom being in control … “being right” … is so important, the vortexes are perhaps more painful.

The only unfortunate thing about this wonderful production is that there were only 20 people in the audience the night I saw it. The show deserves a larger audience, even if the thought of dealing with someone’s grief is a scary thing. The script is not really a downer, but has enough humor to keep the audience snickering with Didion throughout.

Try to catch this show. It will be a night you will long remember.

It will happen to you. The details will be different, but it will happen to you.

Comments

comments

.

News

Hollywood readies its big guns for the holidays

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Need for local foster parents grows

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Tactical robot decreases officer risks

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Couple arrested on drug, firearm possession charges

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Woman confronts suspicious follower

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

Bob Dunning: Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

By Bob Dunning | From Page: A2

 
For the record

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

Berkeley, Santa Cruz students protest fee hikes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Auction-bound student artwork stolen in downtown heist

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A3, 1 Comment | Gallery

UCD awarded $100M to lead program to predict, prevent pandemic threats

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

 
Breakfast with Santa tickets are going fast

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Free boot camp, yoga fundraiser this week

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Enterprise observes holiday hours

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Bell-ringers still needed this holiday season

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Give blood and get a free movie ticket

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Thanksgiving feast is open to all

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Workshop will answer financial aid questions

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Probationers, parolees graduate from Yolo transitional program

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Round up at the registers for Davis schools

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Yolo Food Bank invites locals to run with the flock

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Museum announces holiday schedule

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
At the Pond: Stop, look and listen

By Jean Jackman | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Project Linus seeks donations

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

 
Swing your partner!

By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: A6

Fairfield School enjoys a festive feast

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Right at home: gifts you can use and use up

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

Dec. 10 jeans drive benefits STEAC

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A9

 
Davis Community Church history recounted in Sunday talk

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Open your heart

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Bob Hope interview pulled from ‘the vault’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A12

.

Forum

There’s only one way to fix this

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Students barking up the wrong tree

By Our View | From Page: A14

Rick McKee cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A14

 
Heartbroken over treatment of teacher

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A14, 1 Comment

Google, tell me. Is my son a genius?

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A14

 
Daryl Cagle cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A15

Cordial political discourse: Seven years later, the thoughts resonate

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A15

 
Easing the stress during college application season

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A15

When the computer stares back

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A16

 
How I want to be remembered

By Marion Franck | From Page: A16

 
Watch out for holiday weight gain

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A16

.

Sports

Aggie men finish off Furman

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Upset-minded Lions bounce UCD from WWPA tourney

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

New, old-look helmets not enough to lift UCD footballers

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Late shot sinks Aggie women

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Turnovers costly as UC Davis loses Classic, 41-30

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
UCD roundup: Seniors play well in Aggie volleyball loss

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3 | Gallery

Wire briefs: Kings get past depleted T-Wolves

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
With volleyball playoff berth, DHS accomplished its 2014 goal

By Evan Ream | From Page: B6 | Gallery

.

Features

.

Arts

.

Business

 
Don’t pass up the parking gift downtown

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A13

Doby Fleeman: Give thanks for our innovation culture

By Doby Fleeman | From Page: A20

 
Honey, spreads showcased at open house

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A20

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Sunday, November 23, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B8