Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called Wit. It was by Margaret Edson and it was directed by Marti Lyons. It was about a woman named Vivian (Lisa Tejero) who is a famous professor of poetry, particularly John Donne. (Seeing this play has made me very interested in John Donne. I've started to read his poems. So far I have read "The Bait" and "Ecstasy." He is a very interesting and strange man.) Vivian has just gotten diagnosed with cancer and she knows that she is in a play and how it is going to end: it is going to end with her dying. Not really a spoiler because she says this at the beginning of the play. I think it is very interesting to have given away the end of the play and still leave everyone in tears by the end. This play is about her experiences with chemotherapy, the hospital staff, and questions about if she has reached her goals for her life and if she wants to be saved if she starts to die. It is about mortality, bravery, and human connection. I thought this was a really really beautiful show. It broke my heart. I never have seen a show like this before and I think I will never forget it.
Vivian doesn't really have a family that she is in contact with, so the most important thing to her is her work. It seems to me that Donne is almost her family. It is kind of her job to listen to Donne, spend time with Donne, and try to understand him. She keeps quoting Holy Sonnet 6, which starts "Death, be not proud, though some have called thee / Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so." I think that is a beautiful quote and it represents my take on the play I guess. Death in Donne's world is just another character. Donne did not seem to be afraid of Death; he stood up to Death. But in the world of the play, death is just there and is going to kill you. You can't argue with it you can't stand up to it. All you can really do is see what happens. At the beginning Vivian is trying to stand up to Death-as-a-character, but by the end she sees that death is something that can just take you at any moment.
The last few moments of the play were the most moving, as you may have guessed. There was a moment where Vivian's professor Ashford (Millie Hurley) had come to see her. We had already seen the professor but now she was much older. The first time me meet Ashford she is acting as a teacher as well as a friend. She tells Vivian that she should go out with her friends, but Vivian just studies more and now Vivian is all alone and her old college teacher is her only visitor and friend. It shows how Vivian could have been a happier person if she had taken Ashford's advice. In the hospital, Ashford began to read a story about bunnies. Whoever thinks that a kids' book about bunnies can't be depressing--they are sooo wrong. I could not stop crying. It was so moving and sweet to see how much this teacher and her student connected on such a personal level. And of course the actors had to make it even more beautiful with their performances. When her teacher said, "It's time to go," I started ugly crying my eyes out. I never had an experience like this before. There was one nurse in all of the hospital that was truly kind to Vivian and that was Susie (Adithi Chandrashekar). Close to the end of the play, Vivian asked for a popsicle and asked if Susie wanted some. So they sat on the hospital bed and it was so moving to see Vivian make a real friend; you have never seen her really be truly nice to someone. Then they start to talk about if Vivian wants to be resuscitated, and she says no and you see in Susie's eyes that she will really miss Vivian. And when Vivian is dying, Susie protects her from being saved; it is so amazing and sad to see this nurse trying to stop people from saving her just because that's what Vivian would have wanted.
People who would like this show are people who like Donne, bunny books, and friendship popsicles. I think this is an amazing show, and I really loved it. It really moved me and i hope that everyone can see it! It closes February 19, and I don't want anyone to miss this experience!
Photos: Joe Mazza