Sandown director brings story of grief to the Baxter

Mark Graham Wilson has directed numerous stage productions. He has received more than 20 Vita, Fleur du Cap, Naledi, Kanna, Avanti and South African Film and Television Awards nominations, of which he has won several. PICTURE: Fahiem Stellenboom

Sandown resident, director, writer and producer Mark Graham Wilson will direct South African actress, Dorothy Ann Gould, in the Cape Town debut of American writer Joan Didion’s play, The Year of Magical Thinking, at the Baxter Golden Arrow Studio until Saturday July 28, at 7.30pm.

This profound one-hander is Mark’s return to theatre directing after an absence of several years, during which he focused on television – and his two young children.

His television credits include the role of artistic director of Generations, head writer of Scandal!, story liner for Binnelanders and director on Isidingo and 7de Laan.

The Year of Magical Thinking comes to Cape Town following its run at the Market Theatre earlier this year.

Joan’s moving play is a journey through one of the most universal experiences of human suffering: bereavement.

It chronicles the year following the death of Joan’s husband, John Gregory Dunne – an unexpected and sudden end of a 40-year partnership – just days after their only child, Quintana, had fallen dangerously ill and slipped into a coma.
Faced with the unshakable finality of John’s death, Joan’s normally rational thought processes took a less than pragmatic turn.

She found herself, for example, keeping his shoes, reasoning that he would need them when he returned.

Slowly she had to recognise that, although she was going through the motions associated with the rituals of closure, she was, in fact, longing to perform an impossible trick: to bring John back.

Her memoir is the story of the year she spent wishing – her year of magical thinking.

During the New York promotion of the then recently published memoir, Quintana became seriously ill again. Sadly, following massive brain surgery, she died at the age of 39. Six months after her second tragedy, Joan began working on turning her memoir into a play. This time she was dealing, not only with the loss of her partner, but with the loss of her entire immediate family.

The play is frequently harrowing, often amusing, yet ultimately, it is an expression of the power that love can offer to give life meaning.

There is an age restriction of 13 years.

Ticket prices range from R120 for block-bookings, R160 from Monday to Wednesday and R180 from Thursday to Saturday.

Book through Webtickets or selected Pick * Pay stores.