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 Playhouses 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 Bearings 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:
"Im a student again, Im 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, Vivians mentor; and
Kirsten Williamson played nurse Suzy Monahan, Vivians 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 Johnsons sterile set combined with Kevin
Lamottes 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.