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Corrie Star Julie Hesmondhalgh Shines In Wit - Review

Known and loved for her portrayal of Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, Hesmondhalgh shines brighter than we have seen her before, as she takes centre stage in Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer Prize winning Wit at the Royal Exchange.

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Julie Hesmondhalgh Shines In Wit

Jonathan Keenan / Via Flickr: rxtheatre

Each line of Julie Hesmondhalgh’s relatively uninterrupted, fiercely intricate 100 minute dialogue is eloquently delivered with sharp precision. You would be forgiven for thinking that her background was that of an emcee rather than soap star.

Known and loved for her portrayal of Hayley Cropper in Coronation Street, Hesmondhalgh shines brighter than we have seen her before, as she takes centre stage in Margaret Edson’s Pulitzer Prize winning Wit; directed by Raz Shaw.

Hesmondhalgh’s character, Vivian Bearing, is a stern academic with a rooted passion for the metaphysical poetry of John Donne. This passion becomes a crutch as she battles stage IV metastatic ovarian cancer.

As Bearing is relentlessly tested, parallels are drawn with coldness towards her students and her medical practitioners, whose concerns are weighted more with research than empathy towards their patient.

Nurse Susie Monahan, played by Jenny Platt (also of Coronation Street fame) inverts these parallels, bringing a much needed kindness to our deteriorating lead.

Both delightful and devastating, the story transverses the life of the lead to its ultimate conclusion. Perception and apt expression are utilised to provide humour in an otherwise difficult subject matter, the true definition of Wit.

"I'm like a student and this is the final exam and I don't know what to put down because I don't understand the question and I'm running out of time." Vivian Bearing.

Impressive, deeply raw and emotionally lingering, the press night was met with a standing ovation and stayed with me long after the curtains fell. I did not expect a work about mortality could be so life affirming, highly recommended.

★★★★

Wit continues at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester until 13 February.

More information and tickets: http://www.royalexchange.co.uk/whats-on-and-tickets/wit

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