×

Wit

A precise, demanding and affecting play, "Wit" plunges its audience into an examination of life and death through the eyes of an academic scholar who has been more occupied with the life of her mind than that of her body. Megan Cole, aided by Martin Benson's meticulous direction, delivers a wallop of a performance.

With:
Vivian Bearing - Megan Cole
Harvey Kelekian - Richard Doyle
Susie Monahan - Mary Kay Wulf
E.M. Ashford - Patricia Fraser
Jason Posner - Brian Drillinger

A precise, demanding and affecting play, “Wit” plunges its audience into an examination of life and death through the eyes of an academic scholar who has been more occupied with the life of her mind than that of her body. Megan Cole, aided by Martin Benson’s meticulous direction, delivers a wallop of a performance.

Vivian Bearing, Ph.D. (Cole), is dying of metastatic ovarian cancer when she agrees to a new chemical therapy. As tough as her reputation, Vivian may be the perfect candidate for the rigorous eight-month program. It might kill her before the disease does.

Dr. Posner (Brian Drillinger), the research resident who oversees the therapy , is a former student of Vivian’s.

Only now, removed from her classes and writing, does Vivian perceive what she’s missed in life. She sees in Dr. Posner the same intellectual, misanthropic zeal she once possessed, an attitude that in the end has brought her no visitors , no love.

Popular on Variety

After a career spent studying the work of poet John Donne, Vivian finds eerie new meaning in his thoughts on death and God.

First-time playwright Margaret Edson crafts the force of the play not through bleakness, but with humor and insight.

Director Benson constructs images that, through their juxtaposition, make some of the stage’s most tender moments: A nurse (Mary Kay Wulf) who applies hand cream to an unconscious Vivian; a mentor (Patricia Fraser) who cradles the scholar.

Cole speaks alone to the audience for much of the play; she brings out the passion of pedagogy. As Dr. Posner, Drillinger effectively shows that intelligence isn’t everything. As senior oncologist Dr. Kelekian, Richard Doyle holds similar traits, but tempered with the knowledge that people matter — somehow. As the nurse, Wulf offers warmth and a human touch.

Cliff Faulkner’s stage shows that less is more. It’s dominated by a towering off-white wall whose tall, elevator-like doors part long enough to spit out doctors or medical equipment.

Michael Roth’s music is subtle and effective. Paulie Jenkins’ light design brings a hint of color to what might otherwise be a sterile stage.

Wit

South Coast Repertory Theatre Second Stage, Costa Mesa; 161 seats; $34 top

Production: South Coast Repertory presents a drama in one act by Margaret Edson. Directed by Martin Benson; honorary producers, Olivia and A. Andrew Johnson.

Creative: Sets, Cliff Faulkner; costumes, Kay Peebles; lighting, Paulie Jenkins; original music and sound design, MichaelRoth; dramaturge, Jerry Patch; producing artistic director, David Emmes; artistic director, Martin Benson. Opened Jan. 24, 1995; reviewed Feb. 4; runs through Feb. 26. Running time: 1 hour, 45 min.

Cast: Vivian Bearing - Megan Cole
Harvey Kelekian - Richard Doyle
Susie Monahan - Mary Kay Wulf
E.M. Ashford - Patricia Fraser
Jason Posner - Brian Drillinger
With: Christopher DuVal, Kyle Jones, Stacy L. Porter.

More Legit

  • Protesters demonstrate at the Broadway opening

    'West Side Story' Broadway Opening Night Sparks Protests

    Roughly 100 protestors gathered outside the Broadway premiere of “West Side Story” on Thursday night, carrying placards and chanting in unison to demand the removal of cast member Amar Ramasar. “Hey, hey, ho, ho, Ramasar has got to go,” they cried while holding signs that read “Keep predators off the stage,” “Sexual predators shouldn’t get [...]

  • West Side Story review

    'West Side Story': Theater Review

    Whittled down to one hour and forty-five minutes, “West Side Story” – with book by Arthur Laurents, music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, and choreography by Jerome Robbins — has grown exceedingly dark and mislaid some of its moving parts in the new Broadway revival from edgy Belgian director Ivo Van Hove. (Can [...]

  • The Inheritance review

    'The Inheritance' Closing in March After Box Office Struggles

    “The Inheritance,” a sprawling and ambitious epic that grappled with the legacy of the AIDS epidemic, will close on March 15. The two-part play has struggled mightily at the box office despite receiving strong reviews. Last week, it grossed $345,984, or 52% of its capacity, a dispiriting number for a show that was reported to [...]

  • MCC theater presents 'Alice By Heart'

    Steven Sater on Adapting 'Alice by Heart' From a Musical to a Book

    When producers approached lyricist Steven Sater (“Spring Awakening”) to adapt Lewis Carroll’s “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” into a musical, his initial reaction was to recoil. His initial thought was that the book didn’t have a beginning, middle and an ending. But Sater pulled it off with his production of “Alice By Heart.” After an off-Broadway [...]

  • The Lehman Trilogy review

    Sam Mendes' 'Lehman Trilogy' Kicks off Ahmanson's New Season

    Sam Mendes’ “The Lehman Trilogy,” which took London’s West End by storm will be part of the Ahmanson’s lineup for the 2020-21 season. It will be joined by Broadway hits “Hadestown” and “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Artistic director Michael Ritchie announced the season that will also feature four fan favorites and another production to be [...]

  • Zoe Caldwell Dead

    Zoe Caldwell, Four-Time Tony Winner, Dies at 86

    Zoe Caldwell, an Australian actress with a talent for illuminating the human side of imposing icons such as Cleopatra and Maria Callas in a career that netted her four Tony Awards, died on Sunday due to complications from Parkinson’s disease, according to her son Charlie Whitehead. She was 86. Caldwell occasionally appeared in television and [...]

  • Cambodian Rock Band interview

    Listen: How 'Cambodian Rock Band' Became One of the Most Produced Plays in the U.S.

    One of the hottest trends in American theater this season is Cambodian surf rock from the 1970s — and that’s thanks to “Cambodian Rock Band.” Listen to this week’s Stagecraft podcast below: Playwright Lauren Yee’s genre-bending stage show, part family drama and part rock concert, has become one of the most-produced plays in the U.S. this season. [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content