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COAF_Year of Magical ThinkingTHE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING presented by the Cincy One Act Festival through Dec. 28. Click here for more information on the production. I attended the opening Sunday performance.

For many people who have lost loved ones, the holidays can be bittersweet.

THE YEAR OF MAGICAL THINKING is an eighty-minute, one-woman show, based on Joan Didion’s best-selling memoir of the same name. Cate White takes on the role of Ms. Didion, recounting her life following the sudden death of her husband of 40 years, and the subsequent hospitalization of her only daughter.

The script is very well-written and accurately portrays the mix of emotions following a sudden loss. Personally, the retelling of her husband’s death hit really close to home, but at the same time gave a new perspective to my experiences 15 years ago.

White’s acting is solid and I found her performance quite believable.  She accurately portrays someone struggling to hold them-self together, trying to be strong for others. We do see her veneer crack a few times, but I think there were a few more places in the script this could have happened, and at least once see a bigger struggle to regain her composure.

The play is directed by Lyle Benjamin, and the action flows well between the different play areas. Considering how intimate the work is, I wouldn’t have minded bringing everything a bit closer to the audience.

The projections by Doug Borntrager work well. I did feel that one of the counselor’s photos looked a bit too much like a headshot. I wasn’t a fan of the “typing” sound effect either, finding it a bit dated and loud enough to be distracting.

While not your typical holiday fare, this intimate portrait of loss is moving and somewhat cathartic. Sometimes you need to confront your ghosts of Christmas past.

My rating: 3.75 out of 5


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