Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The Year Of Magical Thinking

photo: Brigitte Lacombe

My profile will attest that I have a lot of feeling for Joan Didion's book. That said, it is one thing to sit intimately with Didion's interior, deeply personal words on the page about the experience of profound loss and quite another to see someone reciting variations on it in the author's absence, even when said someone is the great Vanessa Redgrave. This isn't theatre, it's an expensive audiobook. Didion hasn't adapted the book for the stage so much as she's simply organized it into a ninety minute essay so that it can come out of Redgrave's mouth, American accent and all. Besides the mostly chair-bound actress, the production's only points of visual interest (not counting the Broadway debut of the giant roach that meandered across the stage) are a series of scrims that successively drop to deepen the stage space. Eventually Redgrave looks dwarfed on the empty stage, an accidental but apt visual metaphor for what is wrong with this evening.

Also blogged by: [Christopher]


Christopher said...

Yes, the play is flawed. I hinted at such in my post, but despite its imperfections, I will still blown away by the performance. Do you think Redgrave captures any of Didion's essence? Her personality? At $96 a ticket, that's a little more than $1 per minute of audiobook entertainment.

Patrick Lee said...

It's not a play, it's a public speaking engagement speech. What we'd hope would be gained by hearing an actress give it rather than the author - namely the shaping, interpretive hand of a performing artist - is mostly sabotaged by the unsuitability of the material, as it has been adapted here, for the stage.