BWW Review: North Carolina Theatre's WIT
Wit is a 90 minute one act play by Margaret Edson that tells the story of Vivian Bearing, a renowned English professor who has been diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. During the course of her illness, Vivian comes to reassess her life and her work with a profundity and humor that are transformative both for her and the audience.
After having its world premiere productions in Costa Mesa, California and New Haven, Connecticut, the play debuted at MCC Theatre Off-Broadway in September 1998, where it would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It was later adapted into a TV movie directed by Mike Nichols that aired on HBO in 2001, winning three Primetime Emmy Awards (including Outstanding Made for Television Movie). The Broadway premiere was presented by Manhattan Theatre Club in 2012, and that production earned two Tony Award nominations for Best Revival of a Play and Best Lead Actress in a Play for Cynthia Nixon.
While the play itself isn't all that witty (no pun intended), playwright Margaret Edson still did something very clever with it. She treats the subject matter seriously while also finding some room for comic relief without going overboard.
Director Kate Galvin very inventively stages this production in and around a brilliant set designed by Chris Bernier. The cast is led by Kate Goehring (who came in for Judy McLane at the last minute) as Vivian Bearing. A role that seems that if it isn't well cast, then the play doesn't work. Luckily, Goehring is so mesmerizing to watch onstage as she narrates the play, goes through an entire character arc while almost never leaving the stage, and is also heartbreaking by the end.
She is joined by a great supporting cast that includes Tony Award winner Daisy Eagan as her caring nurse Susie Monahan; Dick Lumbard as Harvey Kelekian; Logan James Hall as Jason Posner; and Jo Ann Cunningham as E.M. Ashford.
Again, this play deals with serious subject matter. Though with that being said, I think anyone who's into this kind of theatre should be in for a real emotional ride. And did I mention that the production ends with a real striking image?