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Marvin's Room

Marvin's Room
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Scott McPherson
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 72
Pub. Date: 1998
ISBN-10: 0822213125
ISBN-13: 9780822213123
Cast Size: 4 female, 5 male

About the Play:

Marvin's Room has long been a favourite of acting teachers for Female Monologues, Male Monologues, and Male/Male Scenes.

Marvin's Room is a full-length drama by Scott McPherson. Good-hearted Bessie has been taking care of their ailing father for 20 years, but now shes the one who's sick, and she must reconcile with her estranged sister, Lee. A remarkably humorous and tender play, this critically acclaimed family drama is a hilarious and wondrous account of one woman's commitment to loving others first, and her belief that giving such love has made her life unbelievably rich, even as she faces her own death.

Marvin's Room is a wildly funny play about the laughter that can shine through life's darkest moments. Bessie lives in Florida where she cares for her aunt and ailing father, Marvin. Aunt Ruth has several collapsed vertebrae and has to wear an electrode pack on her waist with which she can both control her constant pain and open and close her garage door at will. Unable to speak, and confined to his bed for years, Marvin's only entertainment comes from someone bouncing beams of sunlight, reflected from a small mirror, around his room. Bessie learns amidst all this illness that she has leukemia and that her only hope is to contact her long-estranged sister Lee to see if her bone marrow is compatible for a transplant. Lee reluctantly makes the trip to Florida from Ohio, bringing along her two sons, one of whom has just been released from an institution after a wave of arson. The reunion of the sisters 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 to reunite Lee and her son Hank before he rejects her forever for her years of neglect. One by one, Lee and her sons are tested for the transplant, but none of them will be able to donate to Bessie who, for the moment, seems to have gone into remission. Against Lee's urging that Bessie take it easy, Bessie refuses to condemn Aunt Ruth and her father to nursing homes, claiming that only by caring for them herself will she make her own illness bearable. During a trip to Disneyland, Bessie collapses. Lee and Hank, however, have finally begun to communicate as a result of Bessie's attentions to them both. As the bad news accumulates, the play ends with Bessie taking shelter in her only refuge: In answer to her father's cries of discomfort, she selflessly abandons her own despair and helps him to bounce the day's remaining sunlight around his room.

Marvin's Room, his last completed work and only his second full-length play, premiered at Chicago's Goodman Studio Theatre in 1990 and went on to national acclaim, first at the Hartford Stage Company in Connecticut and eventually at Playwrights Horizons and the Minetta Lane Theatre Off-Broadway. The play won the 1992 Outer Critics Circle award for best play, the 1992 Drama Desk award for best play and the Joseph Jefferson award in Chicago for original work, among other honours. The play has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and is regularly performed in regional, middle school, high school, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 4 female, 5 male

What people say:

"…one of the funniest plays of the year as well as one of the wisest and most moving. When the American theater gains a new voice this original, this unexpected, you really must hear it for yourself." — New York 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." — New York Post

About the Playwright:

Scott McPherson (1959-1992) was an American actor and playwright who wrote Marvin's Room, an award-winning Off-Broadway hit. He was born in Columbus, Ohio. Moving to Chicago, he wrote for local television and acted in four theatre companies, including a production of Larry Kramer's AIDS play, The Normal Heart. He had completed the screenplay for Marvin's Room and was working on another, as well as a new full-length play, when his death robbed Chicago's theatre scene of one of its brightest hopes.