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DOOR COUNTY ADVOCATE REVIEW

KUJAWSKI EXCELLS IN ISADOORA’S “WIT”
BY MARTY LASH

Margaret Edson’s “Wit” is a serious chronicle about a college professor dealing with the ravages of cancer while undergoing treatment in a teaching hospital. It’s Isadoora’s final offering this season and is one of the company’s most compelling presentations.

Basically, the show is a monologue as told by a character known to us as Vivian Bearing. Throughout much of the first part of the play Bearing is presented to us as being a cold, relentless intellectual. She is an expert on the works of a 17th century poet, John Donne, and we find out that she has been strict, uncaring and even cruel towards her students. She is a zealot and has an obsession with minutia. Bearing the kind of teacher most of us have dreaded ever having.

Initially she tries to make sense of her predicament through her intellectual prowess. The character tells us that she thought she could deal with her medical nightmare by being intelligent. She predictably acts like she is experiencing a graduate level course in humility. At one point she says, “I am learning how to suffer.” Bearing uses her wit and knowledge to hide from the world.

While undergoing treatment she has to deal with mostly uncaring hospital help. Many who deal with her treat her as a laboratory study. They provide empty words of encouragement and are only concerned with test results and medical data.
There is a resident who seems to love cancer’s unrelenting nature. He is fascinated with its ability to replicate itself.

Finally Bearing is presented with a caring nurse. This nurse, Susie Posner, is not intimidated by Bearing’s manner. This character has the ability to soothe patients who are near the end and helps Bearing break through her cold shell. There are very touching moments in the second act when Posner comforts a changed and fearful Bearing.

Leading this production is Renee Kujawski. Ms. Kujawski has been director of many Door County productions and this is her acting debut for Isadoora. Her performance is intelligent and captures her character’s uncompromising nature. Throughout Kujawski’s acting is fearless and convincing. In order for us to be moved by this show Bearing has to be vital and urgent. When called on to deliver, Kujawski concentration never flags.

Most striking is her stage presence. Ms. Kujawski lost her hair due to an illness unrelated to cancer and was an obvious choice for the role.

Another standout is in this show is Chris Milton who plays a nurse, Susie Monahan. Milton wonderfully conveys her character’s compassion and caring. Her handing of the part is a fitting testament the work done by nurses everywhere.

The remaining support cast is good but not the strongest Isadoora has given us. No matter, this is Kujawski’s moment to shine.

Much credit must be given to the show’s director Bill Baurenfeind. It’s a demanding play to pull off but with Kujawski he could not have gone wrong.

Isadoora Theater Company’s production of “Wit” runs at 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday May 21-23 and 2:00 p.m. Sunday, May 24, at Ephraim Village Hall, Ephraim. Tickets are $12 for adults and $7 for students. For tickets or more information, call 493-3667 or visit www.isadoora.com.

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