Monday, September 6, 2010

Wit by Margaret Edson (1999)

Summary:  Fifty year-old Dr. Vivian Bearing is suffering from stage-four ovarian cancer, after having dedicated her life to the study of 17th century poetry, specifically the work of John Donne.  She struggles through an eight-month course of chemotherapy alone; but we know from page three that she will be dead by the final curtain.

Thoughts:  Perhaps the most stunning part of this play came after the end of the text in the author’s biography.  There, I learned that Margaret Edson is a kindergarten teacher from Atlanta and that Wit is her first (and only) play. 

This play could easily be cut into a one-woman show and staged productions likely depend entirely on the prowess of the actress playing Vivian.  Edson succeeds at capturing Bearing’s stiff lecturer persona while using the elegiac language of Donne partially because this language is balanced with a few actors speaking the most plain and mundane English.

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