A revival of Wit in Raleigh | Theater | Indy Week
Pin It

A revival of Wit in Raleigh 

Margaret Edson's darkly comic cancer drama Wit has been an excellent showcase for such top-caliber actresses as Cynthia Nixon on stage and Emma Thompson in the HBO film version. In a new production directed by Carnessa Ottelin at Justice Theater Project, Rasool Jahan continues this tradition with her portrayal of terminal academic Vivian Bearing.

Bearing, an accomplished John Donne specialist, is stricken with stage 4 metastasized ovarian cancer, which she informs us at the play's opening will leave her dead by the time the curtain falls. "The Faerie Queen this is not," she quips, as her sharp tongue and self-awareness provides dry commentary on the absurdity of her undignified, dehumanized existence in the cancer ward.

Bearing's last name proves ironic as she loses her own bearings in the barrage of cancer treatments. She lapses into memories while reciting her old academic analysis of Donne's Holy Sonnets, particularly the one most appropriate to her situation: "Death, be not proud." The academic detachment with which she's led her life gets a sort of karmic retribution in the way the doctors view her as more of a collection of symptoms than a human being, including one (company vet Byron Jennings) who's a former student of hers and as arrogantly disdainful about patients as she once was about her pupils.

Jahan hits the right notes as the humbled-but-not-out Bearing; she conveys the sense that the character's arrogance is earned from a lifetime of hard work and study. It's painful to see Bearing's loss of control over her own body even as she brilliantly analyzes Donne's poetry. The supporting cast is solid, particularly Jennings and, as a sympathetic nurse, Page Purgar. But this is Jahan's show, and she makes the most of the opportunity.

Upcoming stagings include a panel discussion on Feb.15, and a Cancer Resource Fair on the show's final weekend, as part of the Justice Theater Project's focus on health care awareness in its 2013–14 season.

This article appeared in print with the headline "Rotten in denmark...."

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Theater



Twitter Activity

Comments

this looks like they conflated sexual orientation with the astrological 7th house :)

by theseatree on Theatre Raleigh's Stellar Significant Other Puts the Perils of Being the "Gay Best Friend" on Blast (Theater)

these people are a bunch a weirdos. and that's what we like about them.
i like a a performance …

by Geoff Dunkak on With The Changeling, Jaybird O'Berski Runs Amok Through a Quintessentially Problematic Seventeenth-Century Script and Leaves Us to Figure Out What to Make of It (Theater)

Most Recent Comments

this looks like they conflated sexual orientation with the astrological 7th house :)

by theseatree on Theatre Raleigh's Stellar Significant Other Puts the Perils of Being the "Gay Best Friend" on Blast (Theater)

these people are a bunch a weirdos. and that's what we like about them.
i like a a performance …

by Geoff Dunkak on With The Changeling, Jaybird O'Berski Runs Amok Through a Quintessentially Problematic Seventeenth-Century Script and Leaves Us to Figure Out What to Make of It (Theater)

Point well taken. I wish more people had seen HE/SHE AND ME at The Womens' Theatre Festival, an intriguing original …

by Jerry Sipp on Plays About LGBTQ History Are Plentiful in the Triangle. We Need Them All. But Isn’t It Time to Look Ahead? (Theater)

Quite an insightful assessment. I believe Mr. Britt has many strong points. In order for North Carolinas theaters to successfully …

by nperry on Plays About LGBTQ History Are Plentiful in the Triangle. We Need Them All. But Isn’t It Time to Look Ahead? (Theater)

© 2018 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation