Plays on words bring out the wit in life |

Plays on words bring out the wit in life

BRECKENRIDGE – What happens when you live with your head but forget about your heart?

Dr. Vivian Bearing, a professor of 17th century English Literature, examines this question as she faces the last stage of ovarian cancer in the Backstage Theatre’s presentation of “Wit.”

The 90-minute play exposes audiences to the scourge of cancer and the importance of kindness, simplicity and love through a series of flashbacks seen through Bearing’s eyes. She reviews personal relationships with her father and her mentor and looks at how doctors, nurses and technicians affected her during her battle with cancer.

“It’s about her revelations she has about life and how we can look at the wit of life,” said director Tom Hart.

The 1999 Pulitzer-winning play has been performed throughout the nation, but in the productions Hart saw, he never found the wit in it. His mission is to bring out the wit through staging and character revelation. He also has allowed the actors to change the characters so their more humorous, compassionate sides emerge.

“My idea about it from the onset is that there’s a lot of word playing in it,” Hart said. “We are never so close to the vitality of life as we are when we are close to death. The play takes place at that instant (of death, but) the play is not about death. It’s about life. We hope to give that experience to the audience. This play is extremely entertaining.”

“(I’m hopeful the audience) will get more than the depressing part,” said Barbara Morgan, who plays Bearing. “This is wit in the old-fashioned sense: The ability to look at contradictory or paradoxical elements of life and reconcile them in a manner that’s humorous, witty and ironic.”

While Bearing’s flashbacks propel the story, the other characters illustrate it. Her nurse teaches her about kindness, and her young doctor mirrors her intellectual, nonfeeling approach to the world. Throughout her journey, Bearing discovers the important aspects of life.

“It’s a roller coaster,” Hart said. “It goes from pretty funny stuff, and it takes you through some intellectual stuff and it takes you through some really gut-wrenching stuff. But there’s a humor with it. It’s not outrageous humor. It’s the wit of it. Everything’s a juxtaposition. There’s some very touching moments in the play. (The audience) will walk away with a bunch of emotions. Cancer’s a heavy thing.”

“It will probably affect every person differently,” said actor Rick Rexford. “I think (the humor) will come across, and I think that will shock people.”

“Wit” opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 13 at the Breckenridge Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased by calling (970) 453-0199.



When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and

Saturdays, March 13 through April 19

Where: Breckenridge Center for the

Performing Arts

Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 245 or by e-mail at

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