Monday, November 7, 2016

QUICK TAKE REVIEW By Beverly Creasey No Man Is An Island

Reasons to seek out Hub Theatre’s lovely production of Margaret Edson’s WIT (playing through Nov. 19th): First, Liz Adams’s astounding performance as the fearless professor ambushed by terminal cancer. Adams always gives her all to a role (her magnificent performance in DOG ACT comes to mind) but she delves so deep into the imposing professor’s psyche that her anguish is palpable to everyone in the room.

The next reason: Hub offers pay-what-you-can tickets for every performance. The Hub folks are committed to presenting theater that matters and is accessible to everyone. And they’ve been doing it successfully since 2013. WIT won the 1999 Pulitzer and just about every other critical award for its raw intensity and its stunning universality. (Don’t we all know someone with cancer?)

Professor Vivian Bearing is an expert on the works of John Donne, specializing on the Holy Sonnets. Donne scholarship is her life’s work, examining every nuance in every line of poetry, down to every choice of punctuation. How ironic that she has made herself into an island: Parents dead, no children, no friends to rely on now that she is out of her depth.

She still has her acerbic wit and her fierce intelligence but they’re no match for this foeand they don’t impress her doctors, one of whom (Tim Hoover) was her student years before. It’s not that they’re callous. They see her as a biological being, whose data may contribute to cancer research. Come to think of it, a lot of them are callous. Only one of her caretakers isn’t: Lauren Elias as the professor’s sweet, compassionate nurse gives Bearing (and us) welcome respite from the protracted suffering.

Robert Bonotto commands the stage as the formidable chief of surgery, surrounded by quaking, intimidated interns. But as Bearing’s father, in a brief, immensely touching scene, he shares a tenderhearted moment with his five year old daughter, teaching her a new word. (And now we understand her love for language and literature.)

Director John Geoffrion gets stellar work from the entire ensemble of techs, orderlies, etc., especially Dayenne C.B. Walters as the teacher who mentored Bearing early on.

Don’t miss this play!