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‘Marvin’s Room’: Sensitivity With Humor

July 5, 2017 
By Dr. Leonard Golubchick, LaborPress Entertainment Editor

Scott McPherson’s play Marvin’s Room, a story of love, death, and the scourge of AIDS, first appeared off-Broadway in 1991 and was brought to the big screen in 1996.

The Roundabout Theatre’s Broadway production, now at the American Airlines Theatre, brings a unique view of life and dying, but in its own way is charming and full of humanity. Although the topic may seem morbid, McPherson’s script handles it with sensitivity and gives the characters a great deal of empathy with a good touch of humor.

Bessie (Lili Taylor) has been caring for her dying father (the Marvin of the title, who is never seen) for over 20 years when she finds out she has leukemia.  There is good interplay between her and her aunt Ruth (Celia Weston), as well as with the absent-minded doctor (Triney Sandoval) who diagnoses her leukemia. Bessie contacts her estranged sister Lee, excellently played in her Broadway debut by Janeane Garofalo. Jack DiFalco also gives a strong performance as the disturbed son who burned down Ruth’s home.

Director Anne Kaufman brings all of the characters together in this sensitive comedy with great aplomb, highlighting McPherson’s low-key humor. 

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