A Writ Upon W;t
21 March 1999
UNION SQUARE THEATRE, New York City, 18 March 1999 - The show was supposed begin at 8 pm. The curtain did not rise at 8:20; but there was no curtain, so that was forgivable. Unfortunately, when Vivian Bearing, Ph.D. (played by Kathleen Chalfant) appeared on stage, she was slightly blurry (- but that was my own fault; I had temporarily misplaced by glasses(1)). Fortunately, at the expense of a small headache which caused me to retire early, I was able to watch the duration of the play almost as vividly as I might otherwise have liked.
I won't comment on the performances by the cast members in any great length. I felt they all adequately met the demands of their roles. Only two were the least bit memorable in fulfilling their characters. Those two are Kathleen Chalfant (playing Vivian; mentioned above) and Paula Pizzi (playing Susie Monahan, R.N., B.S.N.). The first was memorable for being on stage all of the time, and sardonic and supposedly witty for most of it; I believe this was intentional by the author and director. The latter was memorable for being the most lively and charismatic member of the cast; I believe this was also intentional. I am not, however, sure that the rest of the cast was meant to be so forgettable.
As to the script itself: I felt this was a well-written and well-constructed play, adequately self-contained and self-referential. I enjoyed the irony of Vivian Bearing, heading toward death by cancer, being a professor specializing in the work of a poet who wrote extensively about death, which provided an interesting tie between the character and her situation. On the other hand, I feel this play may appeal most to two distinct audiences, neither to which I belong: those that are familiar with the poet John Donne's work and those that are personally acquainted with the suffering of cancer patients (this latter most strongly, as could be witnessed by tears amongst the audience).
1. For this same reason, the rest of the cast were similiarly unseenly. My glasses were
immediately found under my seat during curtain call. Fortunately, they were found by hand, not
by feet. Return