Cynthia Nixon Wit
February 7, 2012 by staff
Cynthia Nixon Wit, Margaret Edson’s Wit is a carefully constructed portrait of a solitary life facing its painful, cathartic end. We view this dismantling of the spirit through the eyes of a university professor with terminal ovarian cancer. Vivian Bearing (Cynthia Nixon of Sex and the City) has no problem telling the occasional passerby that she’s a literary scholar and has achieved a certain level of distinction that is unmatched by her peers.
She’s razor sharp with her witty comments and refuses to dumb down her conversations, no matter the setting or subject matter. In other words, she’s a hard-headed person who probably isn’t the best candidate for a rigorous, debilitating chemotherapy treatment.
As the going gets rough – and in Edson’s play, the going gets extremely rough – Bearing loses her bearings. Here’s a woman who has shielded herself with vocabulary and punctuation her entire professional life. So how does she face a humiliating gynecological examination? How does she put her life in the hands of a novice doctor who used to be a student of hers at the university? How does she connect with living, breathing humans, people who live beyond the scope of a textbook or tome of poetry?
The cancer is eating away her insides, but Bearing’s most unendurable obstacle is the slow peeling away of her defense mechanisms. She’s not in her element.
She does’t have a class of degenerate college students. She doesn’t have her poetry books, although she still has memories of the inspirational John Donne and his sonnets.
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