Review submitted by Lauren Smart
So few plays can handle the issues of disease and death with both humor and sincerity like Scott McPherson’s Marvin’s Room. Circle Theatre’s current production of this heartfelt script running through June 25 treats the material with the utmost respect, making it an enjoyable and touching experience.
Clare Floyd DeVries’ set functions as a late 20th century Florida home, doctor’s office, and at one point Disney World, which allows the play to come to life without stealing attention from the content. Frosted bay windows occupy the center stage, representing Marvin’s room. Marvin, never seen by the audience, is the bedridden father of Bessie, the play’s protagonist, and its key catalyst.
Bessie: “I’ve been lucky to have so much love in my life.”
Julienne Greer gives a compelling performance as Bessie, showing her struggle to take care of her family only to find out that she is also sick. Her heartbreaking struggle is offset by Ouida White’s charming turn as Aunt Ruth, who also lives with Bessie after finding her ‘cure.’ Chad Patrick Smith gives an amusing performance as the bumbling Dr. Wally, who has taken over the practice while the family’s normal doctor is on holiday.
Harry Parker has directed a show in which an estranged, struggling family can have conflicting personalities with identifiable similarities, especially evident in the performance of Jennifer Engler as Lee and her sons Hank (Roy Parker) and Charlie (Tyler Krieg). Roy Parker demonstrates a great deal of maturity in his performance as Lee’s son who has been committed to a mental institution. Engler allows Lee to openly struggle with the difference between heartfelt decisions and selfish ones, as she slowly begins to realize she might need to care for her entire family.
Lee: “Yes, Marvin and Ruth love you so much.”
Drenda Lewis’ costumes complement DeVries’ set as well, drawing clear distinctions between the modest character of Bessie and Lee’s extravagance.
Circle Theatre treats this heartfelt family drama with the greatest care. It will make you laugh, cry and wish you could wrap your arms around a family member.
Bessie: “No, I’ve been lucky to be able to love them so much.”
Circle Theatre presents Marvin’s Room through June 25, 2011
Call 817-877-3040 or visit their website to order on-line
Photo by Glen E. Ellman: Roy Parker, Julienne Greer, Jennifer Engler