Review: ‘Wit’ at Big Idea Theatre

Wit: Thu 8pm, Fri 8pm, Sat 8pm; Through 2/9; $12-$22; Big Idea Theatre, 1616 Del Paso Boulevard; (916) 960-3036,
Rated 5.0

Margaret Edson’s 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Wit, is a virtual one-woman show about a patient during her final hours dying from ovarian cancer.

Luckily for Big Idea Theatre, it has just the woman to play renowned metaphysical poetry scholar Vivian Bearing: Beth Edwards. Edwards is totally committed to portraying her character—from flashbacks of her receiving the initial diagnosis of stage IV cancer, through a harrowing eight rounds of an experimental chemotherapeutic treatment to her final breath. She moves in a way that makes her pain and exhaustion palpable. She even shaved her head to convey the full ravaging of the disease on a once-vibrant body.

The medical profession takes some well-deserved knocks. Her attending physician, Jason Posner (played by Zane Boyer), who had been a student of the professor in college, almost has a heart—until it threatens his research. Boyer is eerily believable.

Director Karen Bombardier moves the action ahead smartly, except for one unusual element—the introduction of “rhythmical movement” by the ensemble of attendants. Twirling caretakers moving the staging about seemed as strange as doctors who begin each interaction with a dying patient by asking, “How do you feel?”