Performer of the
Asking Erika Slezak to tackle
a breast cancer storyline is like throwing a fastball to Mark McGwire. You know
they're going to hit it out of the park. Over the years and through five Emmy's
Slezak's Viki has suffered through alternate personalities, kidney donation and
stroke and could probably make a computer glitch seem compelling.
So we waited to see what made this new trauma unique. Early in her diagnosis,
Slezak already had us riveted. The first time she called herself a cancer
patient, she paused, and in that silence we hard how far Viki still was from
accepting her situation. Using a soft tone that belied Viki's shaky attempts at
a reporter's objectivity. Slezak hammered home her characters' terror. By
avoiding over-the-top histrionics, Viki's fear was more palpable.
But then Viki sat down to break the news to her children, and we realized we
were seeing something different. In those moments, Viki wasn't just a victime of
an illness suffering in self-imposed silence. With Jessica, Joey and Kevin, she
had to play a new kind of multiple role, as a stricken woman, a cancer patient
and as the mother of three brokenhearted, adult children. Few actresses can
shift from one to the other with such delicate grace.
We believed Viki when she said. I am quite determined that it is not going
to kill me. It is not going to beat me. But there was more going on than just
words or tears in those moments we felt like one of her children. Wrapping her
arms around a crying Jessica, it felt as if Viki was giving us a comforting hug,
too. It was a unique, interactive moment courtesy of a seasoned pro hitting
another home run.