Manhattan Theatre Club’s Broadway premiere of WIT, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by Margaret Edson, directed by Lynne Meadow opened tonight at MTC’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre (261 West 47th Street).
WIT features Pun Bandhu (Technician), Olivier Award winner Suzanne Bertish (E.M. Ashford), Michael Countryman (Harvey Kelekian/Mr. Bearing), Jessica Dickey (Technician), Chiké Johnson (Technician), Greg Keller (Jason Posner), Tony and Emmy Award winner Cynthia Nixon (Vivian Bearing), Carra Patterson (Susie Monahan), and Zachary Spicer (Technician).
Exquisitely written, affecting, and often humorous, WIT follows a brilliant and exacting poetry professor (Cynthia Nixon) as she undergoes experimental treatment for cancer. A scholar who devoted her life to academia, she must now face the irony and injustice of becoming the subject of research.
WIT had its New York premiere in 1998 receiving universal acclaim and ran Off-Broadway for over 500 performances. It was the most honored play of the season garnering the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was named Best Play by the New York Drama Critic Circle, the Drama Desk Awards, the Outer Critics Circle Awards, the Drama League, and the Lucille Lortel Awards. What did critics think of the show's Broadway debut? Find out now!
Ben Brantley, The New York Times: This is a performance that is large and lucid and delicate at the same time, and it justifies Manhattan Theater Club’s decision to mount what is essentially a chamber piece on Broadway. As directed with a persuasive combination of showmanship and sensitivity by Lynne Meadow, this production magnifies the innate theatricality of Ms. Edson’s play without compromising the firm emotional truth at its center.
Mark Kennedy, Associated Press: The humor in Nixon's play is grim, grim, grim and Nixon – along with director Lynne Meadow, who are both cancer survivors – have wrung out every ounce in a 100-minute, intermission-less production...In a play about ultimately reconnecting with one's humanity, Nixon is almost too hard to watch at the end. A ball of pain, and a curdling cry, is all she seems. But she ultimately achieves the state that the playwright intended: grace.
Melissa Rose Bernardo, Entertainment Weekly: Wit is about so much more than one woman's disease. It's about knowledge, ignorance, humanity, love; 'the play is about simplicity and complications,' schoolteacher Edson has said...Fearless doesn't even begin to describe Nixon's performance. She never leaves the stage — the same stage, incidentally, where she delivered her Tony-winning performance in Rabbit Hole in 2006. And from her 'Hi! How are you feeling today?' introduction until her rebirth-like valediction, she never fails to captivate. (Grade: A)
Elysa Gardner, USA Today: No doubt Vivian's struggle to soften her perspective while retaining her dignity will still resonate with many women. But the severity of her isolation and her steady (if rocky) path to enlightenment seem a little contrived. Other characters, too, can come across less as real human beings than as vehicles for Edson's message...It may not be Nixon's finest hour (and 40 minutes) on the New York stage, but it's a joy to have her back.
David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter: A deserving winner of the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, Margaret Edson’s Wit is a work of delicately calibrated opposites. It pits detached clinical observation on one side against raw human emotion on the other, while somehow making dry humor and wrenching pathos travel hand in hand. In Lynne Meadow’s unerringly focused staging for Manhattan Theatre Club, and above all in Cynthia Nixon’s shattering performance, that balancing act is rendered with piercing accuracy.
Matt Windman, amNY: It took more than a decade for "Wit," school teacher Margaret Edson's insightful medical drama, to make it to Broadway. But as demonstrated by Manhattan Theatre Club's elegant and intimate revival starring "Sex and the City's" Cynthia Nixon, "Wit" was well worth the wait...Nixon deserves a lot of credit for taking on such an unglamorous role. She nails the play's humor and captures Vivian's journey, which ends with her finally breaking down emotionally when she is no longer able to hide behind her "wit."