Review: W;t at Nottingham New Theatre

4 1/2 *s

This is a show that is truly special. Entertaining, heart-felt, and full of some of the best student acting the New Theatre has to offer, W;t is a theatrical delight that left me a sobbing mess by the end.

W;t follows uncompromising intellectual genius Vivian Bearing (Lois Baglin) as she succumbs to her ovarian cancer, agreeing to undergo experimental treatment that will further the research data available for the field of oncology. Over the course of her treatment and her decline, she comes to consider what she really achieved in her life and discovers her desire for kindness, ultimately longing for compassion over intellectualism.

Much of the script hinges on the performance of the professor herself and Baglin manages to act with absolutely spell-binding conviction. It is an incredibly demanding role, calling for heavy prosthetics, 100% stage time, and a complete mental and physical journey through the realities of what cancer does to your mind and body. Baglin managed to play the 50-year-old character of Vivian with such bravery and heart that it left me in tears, in an absolutely stunning performance that warrants a standing ovation every night.

The rest of the cast are also excellent. Gigi George was incredibly endearing as Vivian’s sympathetic nurse, and Joe Hincks was strong both as Vivian’s doctor and her father in a flashback scene. Bertie Beeching also made an impressive debut as Jason Posner. My favourite scene of the entire play was the final exchange between Izzie Masters’ Professor Ashford and Baglin’s Vivian, which was played so beautifully and so simply that it stuck with me long after I left the theatre. Masters should be commended for such an incredibly strong performance in such few scenes. The characters within the ensemble were also convincing, particularly in their portrayals of Vivian’s students. Whilst some actors’ American accents were stronger than others, the supporting cast complimented Vivian’s journey well.

The technical design was strong; with lights and strobing effects representing Vivian’s treatments, on-stage projections, and beautiful music underscoring the more tender moments, Will Berrington and Dave Porter should be commended for their adaptation. The set frequently changed to suit the setting, but the accurate hospital equipment and beds added a grounding element of reality to the action, even though their frequent rotation across the large stage did mean that some dialogue was lost whenever they were moved whilst a character was talking. Lisa Gier deserves particular recognition for her make-up and prosthetics, making Baglin look extremely convincing.

This play is an absolute must-see. It is simultaneously heart-breaking and life-affirming, and showcases the best that student theatre can be.

BOOK TICKETS: http://newtheatre.org.uk/whats-on/

Edited by Jess Greaney

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Photo Credits: Will Berrington- http://nt-tickets-static.s3.amazonaws.com/media/show/wit_flat.poster_page.jpg