The Year of Magical Thinking Processes Grief


Judy Jean Berns in “The Year of Magical Thinking.”

An intelligent and emotional juggernaut examining grief and how it is processed, The Year of Magical Thinking is a moving and beautifully acted one person show adapted from writer Joan Didion’s critically acclaimed best seller of the same name.

Sometimes quoting verbatim from the book, and at other times adapting situations, writer Didion has crafted an examination of loss that is as much about denial as it is processing emotions.

The Year of Magical Thinking poignantly describes the year of 2003, with Didion (Judy Jean Berns) enduring the sudden and tragic death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and the serious illness and eventual death of her daughter Quintana Roo. The title refers to the delusional aspects many grieving victims resort to, in which they believe that by performing some act, their loved one will return from the dead. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the fact that Didion finds herself unable to give away Dunne’s shoes, because he might need them when he returns.

Berns’ understated, riveting performance hits its high points in her pregnant pauses and outbursts, when moments of high emotion break through. Her subtlety enhances the power of the emotional upheaval.

Director David Robinson presents a minimal, spare production, featuring only one chair and small table filled with personal objects, from which actress Berns connects with the audience as if letting us in on a personal conversation.

The Year of Magical Thinking features excellent acting and storytelling in examining one woman’s survival of love and loss.

Bright Eyes Productions presents the Los Angelespremiere of Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking Friday and Saturday nights at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. through Oct. 14 at the Elephant Theatre located at6322 Santa Monica Blvd. inHollywood. Tickets cost $25. For reservations, please call (323) 960-7774, or visit

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