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a Drama
by Margaret Edson

COMPANY : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Aurora Theatre [WEBSITE]
ID# 4839

SHOWING : January 14, 2016 - February 07, 2016



Atlanta teacher Margaret Edson wrote only one play, the 1999 Pulitzer Prize-winner "Wit," which chronicles the life of cancer patient Dr. Vivian Bearing, a teacher who becomes a student of life as she undergoes an experimental treatment. Perfect for the county with the most successful Relay for Life in the nation.

Director Tlaloc Rivas
Student/Lab Technician 4 Mike Filer
E.M. Ashford, D Phil Marianne Fraulo
Harvey Kelekian, MD/Mr. Bearing Chris Kayser
Susie Monahan, RM, BSN Tiffany Denise Mitchenor
Student/Lab Technician 3 Kathleen O’Hara
Vivian Bearing, PhD Mary Lynn Owen
Student/Lab Technician 1 Brooke Owens
Student/Lab Technician 2 Benjamin Sims
Jason Posner, MD Justin Walker
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Beautifully Donne
by playgoer
Monday, January 18, 2016
"Wit" is a fairly dense play, involving syntactical analysis of the metaphysical poems of John Donne. And it is also just plain involving, taking us on the final journey of professor and stage four cancer victim Vivian Bearing. She’s not a sympathetic character at first, since she values mind above emotion, but her journey eventually results in her finding the need for human connection.

The central role of Vivian calls for an excellent actress who is willing to shave her head and to appear naked in the final moment of the play. And the emotions must ring true too. Talk about stripping oneself bare!

At Aurora, Mary Lynn Owen is up to the challenge. She appears frail at the start, then seems to waste away before our eyes, all through the magic of acting. Not a moment of her performance rings false. She takes us through her journey with the unsentimental immediacy of impending death, simultaneously engaging us and challenging us to find anything engaging about Vivian Bearing. It’s a powerhouse performance.

Director Tlaloc Rivas has surrounded Ms. Owen with all the elements needed to make her performance and the production as a whole succeed admirably. Isabel & Moriah Curley-Clay (also costume designers) provide a spare set with a soaring arc of lights and a series of ramps that allow set pieces to roll on and off effortlessly. Bravo to Trevor Carrier for props that create a fully believable hospital environment. And double bravos to sound designer Thom Jenkins and lighting designer Kevin Frazier for creating a hospital atmosphere that beautifully captures the effects of scanning machinery and hospital elevators. This is a stunning production to experience.

Acting is terrific across the board. Chris Kayser shows professional distance as Dr. Kelekian and personal distance as Vivian’s father. Marianne Fraulo uses her distinctive, breathy voice to great advantage as Vivian’s mentor. Justin Walker captures the mindset of a dedicated research physician forced to interact with patients. And Tiffany Mitchenor embodies the human heart as nurse Susie. If there’s any deficiency in the casting, it’s only that the four interns who double as students and lab technicians appear much more believable as college students than as medical professionals, and that’s primarily due to their age.

Mr. Rivas has created a production that is among the best Aurora Theatre has produced. And when you follow such a fine production with a talkback with the self-deprecating and charming Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright, you end up with an unforgettable afternoon of entertainment and enlightenment. (Sorry to anyone who missed it; only one such talkback was scheduled.) [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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