I recommend WIT, being done by La Bodega Productions at Theater Theater, and directed by Shawn Cates. I saw this show through the eyes of a former graduate student in creative writing and a man who watched his father die from cancer. Vivian dies so alone--reduced to a specimen, in some ways made to pay for her sins of omission (especially of compassion)--and yet continues to inhabit a fertile world of language that both blesses and curses her to the end (her excursions on John Donne are exciting for those of us who haven't read him since high school.) I found her walk toward death to be painfully realistic, funny, revealing, and a reminder to recognize all the heavens and hells we live through, but try to ignore, in our time on earth.
The cast is strong. It was great to see friends such as Aislinn Cartmill-Arnett and Joey Boyd up on their feet, airing the skills and working habits they've been patiently working to make their own, in acting class. Joann Grandon as Vivian compels, and emits an intelligence that one takes to belong to the actress as well as the role. Chris Graham as Jason--Vivian's callow doctor and former student--happens to be one of my favorite Portland actors, and doesn't disappoint me here.
Points of nudging for this productions: the night I saw, the pace fell off--too much air got in there, so a show that should be running not much more than 90 minutes came in closer to two hours--and the actors needed to speak up more consistently. I strained to hear much of the dialogue. These are technical details that are, of course, easy to adjust.
I'm going to see the show again, later in the run, especially to hear again some sharp moments of academic ratiocination for which I hold some nostalgia.
Other shows I need to get to locally: A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHT DREAM, at Lakewood, and MOBY Dick, at Northwest Childrens' Theater. Next week, I'm seeing everything I can down at Ashland. I'm especially looking forward to KING JOHN, in the New Theater, and CYRANO, on the Elizabethan Stage. If anyone's going to be down there and wants to knock back a beer, let me know (if you're one of those readers who'd wants to take a swing at me for some of my commentary on this blog, especially find me out. We'll have a good debate, you'll find out I'm not such a prick, and I'll buy the first round.)