Theater Info for the Washington DC region

Spot-LYTE Company Wit

By • Jun 3rd, 2011 • Category: Reviews
Wit by Margaret Edson
Spot-LYTE Company
Workhouse Arts Center, Lorton, VA
Through June 11th
95 minutes
$15/$12.50 for Workhouse Members
Reviewed June 2nd, 2011

Wit (also referred to as W;t after a reference in the show) is a one act drama by Margaret Edson. It is the story of Dr. Vivian Bearing, a professor of English suffering from Stage 4 Ovarian Cancer. This is an emotional play that will take you on a roller coaster ride from unspeakable pain and suffering to laughter and cynicism as well as tears and anger that is cancer. A well-done production by a group of dedicated performers who tackled this topic with, for lack of a better word, a lot of wit.

Dr. Vivian Bearing (the cancer sufferer) was played by Carol Stack Tilford. Tilford did a masterful job of engaging the audience from the get-go. She drew them in and held on tightly throughout the evening. As Dr. Bearing, Tilford was able to observe life from the patient’s point of view, and was able to see doctors and nurses for who they really are. And she made you see it, too.

There was kindly Nurse Monohan played by Molly Kaufman. The two had a good relationship and were able talk. Kaufman came across as sincere with a real heart for her patients. The two doctors were stereotypical cold fishes. Dr. Kelekian (Larry Baird) and resident Posner (Connor Butler) were professional, yet detached. Both men acted perfectly as the audience wanted to smack both of them for what they put Vivian through. At the end you did see a bit of Dr. Posner’s humanity, which is often seen as a rarity in the medical profession.

The simple set was designed by Sean Butler, featuring “time” as its main theme, with hourglasses and clock faces painted throughout the background. Jon Banks’ music was subtle and enhanced the show. The opening night performance did experience a few technical issues, such as some mics going out and some lighting problems, but overall these were not overly distracting to the action taking place on stage. Be aware that this production takes place in a tent, so there were a few moments that the actors couldn’t be heard when the wind blew. And some members of the ensemble need to project more.

(Spoiler alert – skip this paragaph if you don’t want to hear parts of the plot) There were a few medical problems with the execution of a few scenes. Dr. Posner had to enter a clean room so as to not contaminate Dr. Bearing. But his mask didn’t cover his nose. Is that intentional to show his feelings about having to get into his plastic suit? Or to show disrespect towards his patient? It was probably just a mistake, as the charatcer seemed to genuinely like Dr. Bearing. There was another scene where CPR had to be given to Dr. Bearing. While the doctor’s technique was good, and his body and costume shielded most of Dr. Bearing, what could be seen of her body wasn’t reacting at all to his chest compressions. Shouldn’t her head be shifting as he exerted pressure?

A moving, and at times humorous, play about living and dying. Cancer is just the means in this case.

Director’s Notes

This show is such a wonderfully written journey, not only for the company but also for the audience. As the director for the Spot-LYTE Company, I try to find works that will challenge the student actors and open them o seeing the world in different ways. I ask them so often to go above and beyond their own life experiences in order to bring a story to the audience. They are always more than adequate to the task and now that we have added professional actors into their midst they have more than risen to the additional challenges. I find myself the one who is constantly trying to rise to the challenge that Margaret Edson has laid down with her wonderful script. The words, the content, the beautiful language that is so evocative and leads you in so many directions. This is not a play about cancer. Cancer is the catalyst. Not just in the play, but in the lives of any who are touched, ravaged, violated, humiliated, strengthened by it. I am like Vivian in that hard things are what I like best. And this was hard. I feel a grave responsibility to tell this journey honestly for all of our family who have taken it to its ultimate conclusion. I hope that we have been able to do that.
I dedicate this how to my Uncle Ed. Edward Pietraszka just recently fought and succumbed in his own journey. I hope he would be proud. Wallio, you are missed.


  • Vivian Bearing, PH.D: Carol Stack Tilford
  • Harvey Kelekian, M.D: Larry Baird
  • Jason Posner, M.D.: Connor Butler
  • Susie Monohan, R.N, B.S.N: Molly Kaufman
  • E.M. Ashford, D. Phil: Ellen Hart McKinstrie
  • Lab Technicians, Clinical Fellows, Students, Code Team: Dehrian Blackmon, Sam Cooper, Samantha Jalajel, Molly Sall


  • Director: Careen Hearne
  • Stage Manager: Hannah Sandler
  • Graphic Design, Poster: Joseph Wallen
  • Graphic Design, Set: Sean Butler
  • Original Music Composed by David Jon Banks

Disclaimer: The Workhouse Arts Center provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.

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