By: Paulanne Simmons
I loved Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of Scott McPherson’s Marvin’s Room, directed by Anne Kaufman. Here’s why…
The show is about characters I care about, good people who at times lose their way because, like all of us, they are all too human.
I admired Bessie’s (Lili Taylor) selfless devotion to her ailing father, Marvin (Carman Lacivita), even though I would have rather she had found some way to fulfill her own needs. I respected her courage when faced with life-threatening leukemia. I thought it was wonderful that despite her own troubles, she still manages to help others, especially her troubled nephew.
I understood why Bessie’s sister, Lee (Janeane Garofalo), kept falling in love with the wrong men, why her relationship with her children is filled with pain and love. Although she has made poor choices, she knows what’s really important in life, and so she agrees to take her family to Florida on the chance that she or one of her children may be a match for a bone marrow transplant and thus save Bessie’s life.
I felt bad for Lee’s brave and vulnerable children, Hank (Jack DiFalco) who burnt the house down in his anger and despair, and Charlie (Luca Padovan), who buries himself in books to escape.
I forgave Bessie and Lee’s aunt, Ruth (Celia Weston), for her incompetence; we are not all born to lead. She is funny and lovable, as is Dr. Wally (Triney Sandoval). One wishes more doctors had his human touch.
I even managed to like Marvin, the man we never see, although we hear his occasional moans emanating from his room. Death is coming for him much too slowly.
What’s more, Kaufman has assembled a cast that makes these very ordinary people and their ordinary lives meaningful. Taylor and Garofalo clearly get the fraught relationship of sisters. DiFalco and Padovan are gut-wrenching as two almost lost brothers who turn out to be quite devoted to each other.
Finally, I loved Marvin’s Room because it taught me lessons, not new ones but ones we have to learn over and over again: It’s better to give than to receive. It’s better to love than to be loved. And if you try to run away from responsibility, it has a way of catching up with you.
Marvin’s Room runs through August 27, 2017 at the American Airlines Theatre, 227 West 42nd Street. Opening Night June 29, 2017
Photos: Joan Marcus