Edson's play Wit begins with the main character, Vivian Bearing, entering an empty stage, pushing an IV (intravenous) pole. She is dressed in two hospital gowns (one with the opening to the front, the other to the back) and a baseball hat. She is thin, barefoot, and hairless. She turns to the audience and talks to them directly, first with a false sense of pleasantry, then in her more usual formal manner. Her first line is "Hi. How are you feeling today?" This line will be repeated throughout the play by various characters, most times exemplifying the undertone of the play, which is that even though these words are spoken, their speakers do not listen to or care about the answer.
Within the next few minutes of the play, the entire drama is placed before the audience. They learn who Bearing is, what she has done with most of her life, and that in less than two hours (the length of the play) she will die of ovarian cancer. Bearing introduces the ironic tone that will run through the play, as well as the obvious theatrical trickery (as in the actress stepping out of character to address the audience) that will prevail.
Next enters Dr. Harvey Kelekian. This scene is done in flashback to the time that Bearing is first told that she has cancer. Kelekian delivers his news to Bearing in very technical terms and in a very dry tone. In response, Bearing challenges Kelekian's choice of words, exposing her trait of...
(The entire section is 983 words.)
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