THE STORY:Bessie lives in Florida where she cares for her pain-ridden aunt and ailing father, Marvin, who is confined to his bed and unable to speak. When Bessie is diagnosed with leukemia, her only hope is to contact her long-estranged sister, Lee, to see if their bone marrow is compatible for a transplant. Lee reluctantly makes the trip from Ohio, bringing along her two sons, one of whom, Hank, has just been released from an institution after a wave of arson. The sisters’ reunion is uneasy at best, with long buried recriminations coming to the surface even as love slowly overwhelms Lee’s veneer of selfishness and glib denial. Bessie’s challenge becomes reuniting Lee and Hank before he rejects her completely for her years of neglect. Beloved for its mordant humor and unflinching wisdom, Scott McPherson’s dark comedy allows us a moving view of one woman’s commitment to family and response to despair.
Winner of the 1991–1992 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play, the 1991–1992 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play, the John Gassner Award for Best New American Play, and the 1991 Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award. “When the American theater gains [a] voice this original, this unexpected, you really must hear it for yourself. What separates MARVIN’S ROOM from so many synthetic American plays…is that even at its occational sunniest, it never lies or sentimentalizes the truth. Mr. McPherson does not pretend that people always die with dignity, either, or that everyone isn’t dying. Instead he asks, What good can we do with the time, however much or little it is, that we have left before our inevitable harsh fate arrives?…My first impulse after seeing Mr. McPherson’s play was to gather those I care about close to me and take them into MARVIN’S ROOM so that they, too, could bask in its bouncing, healing light.” —NY Times. “…written with a blazing, tender accuracy that grips you with the force of revelation…” —Village Voice. “…the themes of death, love, duty, care and service are frugally intertwined in a play of considerable emotional resonance. Laughing one minute, we are shuddering with a stealthy empathy the next. Death has rarely seemed more interesting or love so complex.” —NY Post.