The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan Didion’s no-frills memoir of loss and recovery, opens at Stageworks Theatre this weekend. The essayist and screenwriter adapted the one-woman stage play herself. Didion wrote the piece while mourning the loss of her husband, fellow novelist and screenwriter John Gregory Dunne, and a daughter, Quintana, within two years.

“It’s like running a marathon by yourself,” said Vickie Daignault, who acknowledged doubts about taking on the role at first. Neither she nor director Karla Hartley wanted a 90-minute monologue.

“I think the first challenge was making it theatrical,” she said. “Making it live in a theatrical reality. The tendency is always to kind of drop back into that narrative, literary-lecture sort of space. So we really had to fight against that. The next challenge is that it really is about some of the deepest, wrenching emotions that any of us go through.” Opens Friday and runs through Nov. 19. 1120 E Kennedy Blvd., Tampa. $30-$35. Preview 8 p.m. Thursday, $15. (813) 374-2416. For showtimes, see