Revista Filipina

Revista Filipina

Vancouver Playhouse



by Margaret Edson

Directed by Glynis Leyshon

January 8th – February 3rd

Box Office: 873-3311 or Ticketmaster 280-3311

Powerful and Profound ! Spiritually Uplifting!

By Frank C. Scott

Wit will touch your soul. It will pick you up, shake you violently, make you laugh, cry, and then set you back down, ever so gently, a better person for witnessing it.

Never in my life have I seen such a powerful drama and performance propel so many people to tears. Vancouver Playhouse’s opening night of Wit ended with a standing ovation as touching and moving as the play itself.

Written by one-time playwright, Margaret Edson, Wit won the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It succeeds brilliantly, using wit, irony, and paradox to tell a story of death that is profoundly life-affirming.

The play chronicles Dr. Vivian Bearing’s life and last days while dying from ovarian cancer. She is a scholarly, snobbish English professor who has dedicated her life to the study of 17th century poet John Donne, particularly his Holy Sonnets.

Vivian knows all too well what will become of her. More importantly she realizes that words and poetry have not solved the puzzle to her smug, empty life. The result is a journey of compassion and enriched human spirit. Ironically, she discovers this while suffering the inhumanities of hospital life and experimental chemotherapy treatments.

Thrilled with the prospects of a new experiment, cold-hearted Dr. Kelekian says, "You must be brave, you must be tough." For Vivian, her journey is one of self-discovery, wit, compassion, and finally, salvation: "I’m a student again, I’m learning to suffer."

The incredible Seana McKenna plays the role of Dr. Vivian Bearing. Her performance is superlative. She tugs at her audience from the moment she enters, then takes them on a journey of tears and laughter.

An all-star cast supported Ms. Mckenna's performance. Alex Poch-Goldin played Jason Posner, the obsessed cancer research intern. Jim Mezon played the cold-hearted Dr. Kelekian. Veteran, trail-blazing Canadian actor Joy Coghill played Professor E.M. Ashford, Vivian’s mentor; and Kirsten Williamson played nurse Suzy Monahan, Vivian’s only true friend at her time of need.

Director Glynis Leyshon, the Playhouse's Artistic Director, should be congratulated for premiering this fine drama in Vancouver. Glynis writes on the subject of cancer: "Wit fiercely explores the kind of complex human, spiritual and emotional values that the real-life situation incurs. It never exploits, it never sensationalizes, it never sentimentalizes, but it, for me, touches the heart of that experience."

Pam Johnson’s sterile set combined with Kevin Lamotte’s glaring bright lights worked beautifully as a sharp contrast to heartfelt performances on stage.

This is a must-see show. It runs to February 3rd. Consider Wit a requiem for anyone who has been touched by a disease.

Revista Filipina