Theater Review: ‘Marvin’s Room’ – New York News

(L) Bessie (Lili Taylor) has been diagnosed with leukemia and her sister Lee (Janeane Garofalo) and nephew Hank (Jack DiFalco) come to help. (Joan Marcus)

NEW YORK—Being a caregiver to those with whom you have emotional ties can require much more than simply tending to their needs. Often it means putting your own life on hold—for who knows how long.


Now making its belated Broadway debut at the American Airlines Theatre, playwright Scott McPherson looks at when a system of caregiving breaks down, in his 1991 work “Marvin’s Room,” presented by the Roundabout Theatre Company.

‘Marvin’s Room’ presents an interesting portrait of a family in crisis.

For the better part of 20 years, Bessie (Lili Taylor) has been taking care of her ailing father, who’s been bedridden since suffering a stroke, at the family home in Florida. Also requiring Bessie’s attention, due to crippling back pain, is Marvin’s sister Ruth (Celia Weston). While Ruth does try to help with her brother’s care, it is Bessie who tends to them both on a full-time basis.

Now, however, it’s Bessie who is in need of help. She’s been diagnosed with leukemia, the same disease that killed her mother. Bessie’s best hope for survival is a bone marrow transplant from a healthy family member. The strongest candidate is her estranged sister Lee (Janeane Garofalo), who she hasn’t seen in nearly two decades.

The sisters’ relationship is so tenuous that Bessie doesn’t even mention her to Dr. Wally (Triney Sandoval), until he remarks he saw a notation about it in her file. Long ago having decided to have her own life, Lee is living in Ohio as a single mom with two boys and a degree in cosmetology.

(L) Bessie (Lili Taylor) takes care of her aunt (Celia Weston) as well as her incapacitated father, in
(L) Bessie (Lili Taylor) takes care of her aunt (Celia Weston) as well as her incapacitated father, in “Marvin’s Room.” (Joan…

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