Tribute and Power in “Wit”
Written by Margaret Edson
Directed by John R. Leffert
A review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2014 Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
A beautifully crafted script that examines one woman’s experience with cancer, Thursday marked the opening night of Wit at JCC’s CenterStage. In his curtain speech, director John R. Leffert explained that this production was “more than about cancer”, it was rather “about life.” Having partnered with organizations like Gilda’s Club, Hosparus and Sharsheret, this production is also a tribute to survivors, friends and families affected by the tedious and life threatening disease.
The play follows Vivian Bearing, played by Carol Williams, a highly intelligent scholar who has devoted her life to the complicated poetry of John Donne. Williams captures the strength within this tough English professor, charting the conflict between the confidence in her own understanding of language to feelings of powerlessness that result from her cancer treatments. Williams has crafted a performance that flows like the witticisms her character speaks, and she does well in her physical and emotional transformation as Vivian battles ovarian cancer leading to a powerful final scene.
Vivian is not alone in her struggle with cancer, there is strong support throughout the cast. Andy Epstein plays Vivian’s former student and current doctor Jason Posner. Epstein and Williams embrace a delightfully awkward exchange during an ovarian exam. The scenes these actors share channel the genuine day-to-day doctor and patient relationship. There is cleverness in the monotony which pays off with every moment Epstein’s character’s asks “how are you doing today” to which Williams’ character replies “fine.” Additionally, Lauren LeBlanc and Russ Dunlap round out the strong supporting cast as Vivian’s nurse Susie and physician, Dr. Kelekian, respectfully. Each actor shines with the wonderful dialogue this script holds before them and handles the difficult subject matter with ease and care.
It is good to see a local theater company latch on to a great script like Wit. Moving and superbly led by Ms. Williams, this is the perfect production to pay respect and lend support to a cause that touches so many.
February 13-23, 2014
CenterStage at JCC
3600 Dutchmans Lane
Louisville, KY 40205