MANY actors struggle to find work after they leave the comfort of a soap opera.
After seeing her performance in Wit at the Royal Exchange, former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh will never be jobless again.
She broke my heart as Vivien Bearing, the straight talking academic whose body is being ruthlessly ravaged by cancer. Hesmondhalgh is uncompromising when it comes to sharing with us her character's pain. But the often prickly Bearing manages to also find humour in her situation, taking great delight in putting the doctors in their place.
This is, for me, the best performance of Julie's career, proving she's left the homely but lovable Hayley Cropper well and truly behind.
The doctors do their best for Bearing and while they come across as caring Dr Jason Posner (Esh Alladi) soon starts to see Vivian as a future topic for research. When it comes to the drug treatments she has to endure, Dr Bearing is tougher than a stadium full of old boots. Alladi shines in this part, convincingly embarrassed when he has to undertake a very embarrassing medical examination. Tom Hodgkins is also excellent as the older medical head, Dr Kelekian.
Make no mistake, this is a tough watch at times but I commend the RET for being brave enough to tackle such a difficult subject head on with Margaret Edson's funny, thought provoking and at times deeply moving piece of writing.
The play made me wonder how I'd cope if I got cancer. Hopefully I'd be as resilient as Vivian Bearing. Do not miss - the standing ovation was richly deserved.
* Until February 13. The box office is on 0161 833 9833. Star rating - ****