What Is the Story of Wit?
Wit centers on Vivian Bearing, a brilliant and seemingly unemotional poetry professor as she undergoes an experimental and extremely aggressive chemotherapy treatment for metastatic Stage IV ovarian cancer. A scholar who devoted her life to mastering the Holy Sonnets of John Donne, she must now face the irony and injustice of becoming the subject of research. As Vivian undergoes treatment at the hands of impersonal doctors (including one of her former students), she discovers that human compassion may be more important than intellectual wit. More than a play about cancer, Margaret Edson’s 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama presents a teacher becoming a student of life as she contemplates her possible death.
Nixon commands her spotlight with a nimble, sensitive portrayal, but there’s also key support from Greg Keller as a brash young oncologist, Carra Patterson as a sympathetic caregiver and the formidable Suzanne Bertish as Bearing’s stern literary mentor. Donne chastised death for being proud, but this company earns its bragging rights.Review by David Cote from Time Out New York
Cynthia Nixon’s unsparing performance makes Margaret Edson’s celebrated play a powerfully moving experience.Review by David Rooney from The Hollywood Reporter
What Is Wit Like?
Clad in a hospital gown, Tony winner Cynthia Nixon veers between telling Vivian's story directly to the audience and participating in a series of fast-paced scenes with hospital personnel, students and the professor who inspired her passion for poetry. Wit, which runs about 90 minutes with no intermission, is an emotional experience in the best way: funny, dramatic and thoughtful, with an unforgettable lead character and performance.
Is Wit Good for Kids?
Wit is not for children. Besides the serious subject matter and a brief flash of nudity, the play centers on a professor who declares that “the acquisition of vocabulary is her only defense.” Thus, much of the play is a verbal assault on medical jargon, plus philosophical musings too complex for a child to grasp. Older teens and adults, however, will be highly engaged by the moving performances and stimulating wordplay of Wit.