Here are the facts: One day in 2003, author Joan Didion sat down for dinner with her husband, writer John Gregory Dunne. After some small talk he keeled over dead from a heart attack. This happened while their daughter, Quintana, was in the hospital in a coma from septic shock. Two years later, she too died.
More facts: Ms. Didion’s memoir of that time, “The Year of Magical Thinking,” was released to great critical acclaim, placing it in the company of other noted writing on grief. After her daughter passed away, she adapted, lengthened, and changed the book into a one-woman show for Broadway, where it starred Vanessa Redgrave. And now Ensemble Theater Company, with Linda Purl starring and Jenny Sullivan directing, opened this last weekend.
When Joan Didion’s book “The Year of Magical Thinking” debuted in 2005, it gained accolades as one of the finest contemporary books about the grieving process. Written in 88 days, Ms. Didion took on a time of double tragedy: the sudden death of her husband John Gregory Dunne from cardiac arrest, and the long illness of their daughter, who passed away just as Ms. Didion finished the manuscript.
Two years later, with David Hare directing and Vanessa Redgrave starring, “The Year of Magical Thinking” made its way to Broadway with Ms. Didion’s own adaptation of the book into a play. Five years and many accolades later, our Ensemble Theater Company, with Jenny Sullivan directing and Linda Purl starring, bring Ms. Didion’s one-woman play to Santa Barbara.