Murray’s strengths are quite different to Nevin’s and the program’s disclaimer that she isn’t attempting a realistic portrayal of the American memoirist seems justified.
If Murray lacks quite the charismatic authority to be plausible as an impersonation of the celebrated New York writer, her performance has a quiet concentration, and draws you into more sophisticated emotional eddies than a literal portrayal might.
Her performance has a quiet concentration, and draws you into more sophisticated emotional eddies than a literal portrayal might.
It’s an unbearably intimate production. Just actor, table and chair, and Murray insinuates herself into the soul-baring material – Didion lost her husband suddenly, at the same time as their daughter Quintana was near death – with melancholy wit and an intensity of feeling.
The performance unerringly finds the universal in Didion’s particular experience of grief, and it conjures also – softly, insistently – moments of mythic strangeness in the odyssey of loss.
One unfortunate distraction is subliminal sound design so unattuned to action or mood I thought, for a long time, that it was feedback problem with the speakers. It should be jettisoned: Murray can and does compel your attention without such tricks, and the production would be stronger if it kept completely unimpeded the intimate rapport Murray forms with her audience.