Marvin's Room
Closed 2h 15m
Marvin's Room
73

Marvin's Room NYC Reviews and Tickets

73%
(444 Reviews)
Positive
72%
Mixed
22%
Negative
6%
Members say
Great acting, Slow, Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Funny

About the Show

Roundabout Theatre Company presents the Broadway premiere of Scott McPherson’s award-winning play about the laughter that can shine through life’s darkest moments. Starring Janeane Garofalo and Lili Taylor.

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Member Reviews (444)

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83
Great writing, Great acting, Bad staging, Thought-provoking, Funny

See it if Great writing. Well paced. Great performances. Absorbing with believable characters. Moving.

Don't see it if Issues of illness and family resentments are not for you. The sets are really subpar to the point of distracting from the story. Read more

84
Delightful, Funny, Great acting, Entertaining, Great writing

See it if you like a good story that is funny and poignant.

Don't see it if you don't like a story that turns from humor to very serious at the end.

85
Absorbing, Relevant, Well-acted

See it if Quality production of a resonant work about illnes and aging. Funny moments and solid acting especially from Lili Taylor.

Don't see it if A story about illness and aging doesn't appeal to you. Or if you don't like Janeane Garofalo or Lili Taylor.

60
Meh

See it if you have a particular interest in the actors (all of whom are fine) or the play itself (also fine, but better suited for regional theatre).

Don't see it if you're expecting explosive theatre, mind-blowing acting or thought-provoking drama. There's nothing to hate here, but really nothing to like

70
Disappointing, Relevant, Slow, Quirky, Well acted

See it if Clunky revival of McPherson's drama about caregiving & receiving Good ensemble (esp Taylor & DiFalco) can't get play on track to inspirit us

Don't see it if Huge, ill conceived set dwarfs any emotional connection to drama with little help from Kauffman's tepid direction Humor veers into sit-com

85
Great acting, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy a first-rate cast bringing the pain and joy of family relationships to light with multiple messages.

Don't see it if you cannot enjoy a lot of back and forth between estranged siblings and among other family members.

70
Clever, Disappointing, Intelligent, Slow

See it if Acting by L Taylor and Garofalo superb. Also the young actor who plays the teenager.

Don't see it if First 2 rows in Orch. below the stage. Beyond Row G, Roundabout needs a better sound system. Set too spread out.

76
Absorbing, Ambitious, Cliched, Slow, Fluffy

See it if you're a fan of the leads, enjoy comedies tinged with seriousness, like family dramas, coming of age stories, & family reconcilitions

Don't see it if you don't like comedy along with your drama, another play in a Florida retirement home, plays with fatal illnesses or teenagers acting out Read more

Critic Reviews (49)

The New York Times
June 29th, 2017

"Thoughtfully directed by Kauffman; keenly performed by Taylor, Garofalo and especially Weston; a pleasure to watch throughout...But it is somehow, also, fatally mild. How can this be when nothing has been altered?...Without that heightened and emotional context some of the play’s flaws are more evident now...This production of 'Marvin’s Room' languishes in the gap between the powerful, absurdist comedy Mr. Rich saw and the histrionic excess of the three-hanky film."
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Time Out New York
June 29th, 2017

"Anne Kauffman’s luminous revival for the Roundabout tends to McPherson’s legacy with grace. She plays down the wildness of the humor, and the first act leans toward placidity. This strategy pays off later, however, as Taylor’s performance—gently weird, shadowed with defeat—takes bloom. Without pushing its virtue too hard, the play movingly depicts a world in which loving others is, as it often has to be, its own reward."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
June 29th, 2017

"The actual interplay between the siblings should be, and is, timeless. But something a little hard to quantify has, in the intervening 25 years, flattened and attenuated this play’s power...Especially in the first act, the play’s emotional grip repeatedly slips away while the banter plays out. The actors are doing a hell of a job trying to hang onto it, though...Even when the jokes go on too long, Taylor, Garofalo, and Celia Weston, as their goofy aunt, absolutely know how to deliver them."
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The Hollywood Reporter
June 29th, 2017

"Yesterday's clear-eyed reflection on life's blessings and blights can be today's sentimental Lifetime movie manqué in the wrong hands. And director Kauffman's are definitely the wrong hands...'Marvin's Room,' for all its warmly humanistic strengths, is very much a work of its time, and the director seems unable to connect with its particular wavelength, or to navigate its relatively straightforward blueprint...The revival does eventually muster some poignancy...The cast is generally solid."
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Entertainment Weekly
June 29th, 2017

"Unfortunately, this first Broadway production of 'Marvin’s Room' never quite justifies its trip back to the early ’90s. While not a conspicuous period piece, it resists updating, and yet lacks the emotional power and resonance to move us from its long-ago vantage...While director Anne Kauffman’s take on 'Marvin’s Room' is frequently funny, it is merely serious when you wish it would be moving."
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Variety
June 29th, 2017

"It’s a good play. Honestly, it’s a good play. This mantra is necessary to keep your faith in 'Marvin’s Room'...Despite decent performances, this lugubrious Broadway revival does his dark comedy no favors...This is an intimate play full of quiet moments that cry out for privacy — or at least a little directorial sensitivity. Exposing its modest scenes on the massive stage of the American Airlines Theater is like tossing a puppy into the ocean and expecting it to swim for its life."
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The Wall Street Journal
June 29th, 2017

"Lots of laughs, lots of jerked tears, very little reality. Anne Kauffman, the director, stages the handful of serious scenes in 'Marvin’s Room' with sensitive simplicity and makes the others seem at least possible, if not truly believable...'Marvin’s Room' is a thickly sugared pill, glib and sentimental to a fault...Ms. Garofalo, who is new to the stage, proves to be fully at ease there, enough so that I hope to see her try her hand at a more challenging role."
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Deadline
June 29th, 2017

"It’s a comedy, of course, and a very funny one...'Marvin’s Room,' exquisitely human and tenderly compassionate, doused with anarchic humor, lives, vibrant as ever, in Anne Kauffman’s wonderful revival...It’s to the credit of everyone involved–these committed actors, the sensitive director and most of all McPherson–that the connections slow to take hold are soldered like emotional strands that throw off sparks as they finally fuse."
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New York Daily News
June 29th, 2017

"While the acting is fine, the comedic elements of the story about the intertwining of life and death sometimes feel forced...Anne Kauffman’s staging for the Roundabout, moreover, doesn’t always maximize the material. The pacing is Valium-induced sluggish and the out-of-scale physical production is ill-suited to the intimate goings-on...The script occasionally works too hard for significance, but it also exerts a gentle pull."
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AM New York
June 29th, 2017

"An uneven production...Staging the play is deceptively difficult, as its slow pace and confessional mini-monologues can easily become tedious, and that is often the case with this production...'Marvin’s Room' stands out compared with so many other family dramas because of its refreshing optimism and love of life (even despite serious illness, physical disability, estrangement and the need to make major personal sacrifices), but its emotional reach mostly gets lost in this production."
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NY1
June 29th, 2017

"This is not a morbid play; it's a very human one, told with humor, resignation, and greats gobs of empathy...A most gentle and obviously personal story of the power of love to transcend life's dark turns. Under Anne Kauffman's sensitive direction, the pacing is slow at times, though McPherson's wonderfully low-key humor, particularly in the first act, enlivens the sad story line. And the cast is excellent."
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Theatermania
June 29th, 2017

"It's unfortunate that more of the play's humor doesn't come through in Roundabout Theatre Company's production. Director Anne Kauffman paints this small, intensely intimate family drama with broad strokes that sometimes obscure the comic moments that lighten the darkness...This intimate play about terminal illness at times gets lost on the large American Airlines stage...The performances help compensate for the outsize production."
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BroadwayWorld
June 30th, 2017

“Emotionally rich…Garofalo's knack for flat, unemotional humor is well-utilized…Despite its sparks of quirky humor, ‘Marvin’s Room’ is a small piece that intends to draw audiences in with its gentle approach to emotions. But instead of pushing the production forward and framing it tightly, designer Laura Jellinek's set takes up the far reaches of the stage, shrinking the impact of the fine ensemble's performances. But this is one misstep in an otherwise satisfying production."
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Lighting & Sound America
July 11th, 2017

"The sanity and understatement of 'Marvin's Room' feels like a cool breeze blowing across Broadway...A work that could have succumbed to all sorts of excess miraculously never puts a foot wrong...It comes at you low and outside, landing quietly, yet with devastating force…Thanks to Kauffman's assured direction, nothing is overstated and nobody presses for laughs...Taylor captures Bessie's extraordinary goodness without surrendering her broken humanity. The rest of the cast is solid.”
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Talkin' Broadway
June 29th, 2017

"A staging that's eminently praiseworthy but for one major, surprising flaw...The production could scarcely be bettered in terms of its cast...It's hard to imagine why set designer Laura Jellinek decided to use virtually the entire width, depth, and height of the American Airlines' large stage...A considerable amount of intimacy is needlessly sacrificed, despite the actors' noble efforts to maintain it under direction by Kauffman that's strong and sure in every other respect."
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Broadway News
June 29th, 2017

"An achingly lovely revival...Director Anne Kauffman’s delicately hued but big-hearted production seems as mordantly and ruefully truthful as ever...Not all of McPherson’s tart-but-sweet humor...has aged perfectly...And the play’s small scale...can sometimes feel a bit lost on the wide expanse of a Broadway stage...Kauffman and her flawless cast manage to make the play’s steady accrual of small moments of wry humor and undeniable pathos add up to a rich emotional payoff."
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TheaterScene.net
July 18th, 2017

"If you saw the original New York production of 'Marvin's Room,' you may find yourself feeling that the play was more effective when it was presented in the far more intimate environment of Playwrights Horizons. The otherwise fine cast--which also includes Luca Padovan as Charlie and Carmen Lacivita and Nedra McClyde in various roles-- simply gets lost in the expansive space of the American Airlines Theatre."
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Theatre is Easy
July 13th, 2017

"There isn’t anything really groundbreaking here; if 'Marvin’s Room' is a solid play, it isn’t an especially challenging one, and in lesser hands the whole thing could get a bit humdrum. Fortunately this is a great cast...Less effective is Laura Jellinek’s set design...If you’ve seen 'Marvin’s Room' before, I won’t say that it is essential viewing. But it still works, and thanks largely to the cast, it is at times incredibly powerful."
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Theater Pizzazz
June 29th, 2017

"While the imbalance of emotions is undeniably inherent in the script, Anne Kauffman’s unevenly cast and directed production at the American Airlines Theatre further tips the scale towards lightness...After the nursing home scene, though, and for the rest of the play, Kauffman and the cast smartly probe the play’s depths, and the final few scenes are quite moving. Strangely, though, Kauffman lets the show end too abruptly."
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CurtainUp
June 29th, 2017

"As helmed by Anne Kauffman and as performed by an able ensemble, 'Marvin's Room' remains a moving, well-constructed portrait of a woman who has spent her adult life as the loving caretaker of a terminally ill father...The rather too-slow pacing is picked up by the heart-tugging emotional interactions...Even if all the comic business still landed throughout instead of rather sporadically, it's not as a comedy that 'Marvin's Room' survives but as a very human look at life, love and death."
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Front Row Center
July 12th, 2017

"Seems to have lost much of its vigor in the intervening decades...While the writer’s choice to introduce mildly comedic elements is commendable, this production, directed by the otherwise extremely talented Anne Kauffman, jarringly turns these moments into incongruous variety skits...Unfortunately this production makes such a studied effort to avoid any emotional overindulgence that it turns the play into a rather bland effort."
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Front Mezz Junkies
June 29th, 2017

"The actors have it together, delivering their roles with truth and sincerity, but the staging is on less solid ground...They all come together well, especially with the assist from Weston and Taylor. The simpleness of their phrasing illuminates the piece, and DiFalco brings it home in the end. I almost cried. Almost...Directed well, although not inspiringly, by Anne Kaufman, she somehow finds traces of intimacy on the acres of open space."
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Exeunt Magazine
July 5th, 2017

"Despite the compelling human stories at its core, ultimately ‘Marvin’s Room’ never quite hits you where it should. Even the most poignant elements do not provoke an especially strong response and there are few surprises. With that being said, a well-written play, with damn-fine actors, and a strong production team may indeed be reason enough to bring 'Marvin’s Room' to Broadway. If what you are looking for is simply an enjoyable few hours at the theatre, this production offers that.”
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New York Theater
June 29th, 2017

"So much is so sad in the lives of Bessie and Lee as to make the audience fully justified in wondering: Should we be laughing at this? Yet laugh we do, thanks to the playwright’s subversive worldview, and a production directed with unflashy effectiveness by Kauffman. She steers the uniformly credible cast through a sometimes flighty comedy ultimately grounded in compassion...They get away with the wackier of these comic touches because they are counterbalanced by the more realistic ones."
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Broadway Blog
July 10th, 2017

"The plot's principal drivers are…first, will the emotionally armored Hank agree to be a donor and, second, even if he does, will any of the candidates prove suitable? Two hours-plus, however, are simply too long to wait while these questions are answered. Under Kauffman's well-calibrated direction, the ensemble tempers its histrionics in favor of a natural matter-of-factness…As the play proceeds…the narrative and emotional energy lag…chiefly because of Jellinek's spare, monotonous set."
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Times Square Chronicles
July 17th, 2017

"The play itself seems outdated and tame...The acting is uniformly good, but if you have seen the film version...it is hard to not compare. This is not the tearjerker the film was. As a matter of fact, the show barely manages to elicit much emotion at all. Anne Kauffman has under-directed this piece. Though there are honest and real performances, this production is just dull."
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Village Voice
July 20th, 2017

"A gently wrenching, heart-wise story about dignity in the face of death and the ability of wounded families to heal. The 1990 comedy-drama blossoms and glows under the steady, surgical hand of Anne Kauffman in a long-overdue Broadway debut for both play and director...Staged too broad or too earnestly, McPherson’s delicate tone would wobble in the direction of either quirk-for-quirk’s-sake or weepie manipulation. But Kauffman keeps the needle flickering in the ambiguous middle."
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Gotham Playgoer
August 6th, 2017

"I was very curious to see how well it would stand up unsupported by the context of the early 90s. The answer, for me at least, is pretty well. Roundabout has assembled a strong cast...I wish they had chosen to mount it in one of their smaller venues. It’s an intimate story that seems a bit lost in the vastness of the American Airlines Theatre...Kauffman’s direction captures both the play's absurdity and its compassion."
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The Huffington Post
June 29th, 2017

"In the hands of director Anne Kauffman and a sterling cast, this Broadway premiere of McPherson’s sensitively raucous black comedy about death is most welcome...'Marvin’s Room' is as emotional as it is funny...Kauffman has a firm understanding of the play’s comic/dramatic pulse, and brings out superb performances all around...'Marvin’s Room' is certainly a room to visit. A rewarding and funny one at that."
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Wolf Entertainment Guide
July 8th, 2017

"Anne Kauffman has directed this production with sensitivity to what must be illuminated in the characterizations and in the balance between the writer’s sense of humor and seriousness...The writing and acting call for intimacy, which often gets lost against the gigantic background of the set...Even within the framework of this staging, the performances combine to bring the play to life and keep us focused, sometimes even amusingly, on their situations."
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W
July 10th, 2017

"Pacing slogs and humor, though recognized, rarely elicits laughter. Respectable acting, especially that of Celia Weston and the brooding Jack DiFalco, can’t rescue a play where characters with a tendency to cliché indulge the aspect; where energy is so low, approach so monotone, you may fall asleep several times. Director Anne Kauffman leaves her cast to recite words. She attributes none of them with individuality past the page."
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T
July 21st, 2017

"Kauffman has sacrificed some of the laugh lines for a more naturalistic tone. At first, this seemed to be an error...Gradually, the small scale of the performances draw us in, causing us to listen carefully and become more involved with the people onstage. Those characters are heartbreakingly sad and hilariously eccentric...The casting is another factor in the show’s success...All the choices in this tender revival reveal an involving and human story, unmarred by overdrawn theatrics."
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WNBC
June 29th, 2017

"Gratifying and affecting...I particularly marveled at the way Taylor processed any bad news that comes Bessie’s way. She segues briskly from shock to resilience...It’s easy, as well, to empathize with Garofalo’s Lee...The American Airlines Theatre isn’t a particularly forgiving venue for a story quite so intimate, but designer Jellinek succeeds in taming the open space...'Marvin’s Room' is at its finest when reminding us that memory is a fierce, potent counterpoint to fear of the unknown."
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Simon SEEZ
July 10th, 2017

“With leading roles played by the equally outstanding Garofalo, Taylor and Weston, the sad/funny play isn’t the downer you might expect…Neither depressing nor altogether absurdist with its assertively comical tract, ‘Marvin’s Room’ welcomes the gently empowering lift it gets from Kauffman’s unforced direction and from a cast that doesn’t miss a heartbeat of the play’s inherent poignancy or the compulsively funny sick room jokes. Taylor is wonderful.”
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T
August 22nd, 2017

“A touching and funny production directed gracefully by Anne Kauffman…For its Great White Way bow, it has enlisted a pair of fab actresses to portray the sisters…Kauffman moves the story at a calm pace despite the occasional fireworks…‘Marvin’s Room’ is a tragicomic story that boldly addresses the question of what happens when a caregiver needs a caregiver as well as a bittersweet reminder of the weight of family responsibility and heartbreaking loss.”
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DC Metro Theater Arts
July 7th, 2017

"McPherson’s captured them in all their tawdriness and their shining humanity...They are so specifically drawn, they become universal...Kauffman has staged it smoothly, and the eight actors are each stunningly on target. For some reason I can’t fathom, this very intimate glimpse at the interactions of eight very human beings is being played in the much-too-large American Airlines Theatre and, as a result, much of its impact is diminished...A rewarding place to be this summer."
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scribicide
July 2nd, 2017

"But what strikes me most about 'Marvin's Room' is its perceptiveness about the sick, about how we treat them and how they feel about it ... I deeply admire how it becomes demystified here, returned to the realm of the mundane and the slightly funny, where it always belonged."
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NJ.com
June 29th, 2017

"'Marvin's Room' is a terrific piece of writing—smart, funny, and offering little in the way of easy uplift...The new Broadway revival, superbly directed by Anne Kauffman, does 'Marvin's Room' extraordinary justice—it makes the case that a mostly forgotten play might just be a modern classic...Kauffman handles the broader aspects of the play with a gentle and warm touch. The characters in this show aren't defined by their quirks and eccentricities. They are deepened and humanized by them."
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The Stage (UK)
June 30th, 2017

"The play treads well-worn family drama territory albeit with some laughs along the way. Under the direction of Anne Kauffman it’s given a fairly ho-hum Broadway debut...Kauffman avoids cloying sentimentality but she over-emphasizes each character interaction with a ponderous pace. Even with the play’s conspicuous tender moments, there’s not real heft in the material to resonate...Everyone is too still and the subtlety gets lost on a massive stage."
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Epoch Times
July 16th, 2017

"While the play touches on some very serious issues and offers a number of touching moments, this production often feels like a situation comedy, with snappy rejoinders coming thick and fast; or, alternatively, as a schmaltzy 'disease-of-the-week' television movie. Many of these problems come from Kauffman’s direction...Has a lot to say about the sacrifices people make for those they care about. The current Broadway revival however, doesn’t say it as well as it could."
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T
July 8th, 2017

"I loved Roundabout’s production of 'Marvin’s Room'...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...Kauffman has assembled a cast that makes these ordinary people and their ordinary lives meaningful. Taylor and Garofalo clearly get the fraught relationship of sisters. DiFalco and Padovan are gut-wrenching...It taught me lessons, not new ones, but ones we have to learn over and over again."
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StageZine
July 9th, 2017

"Although an often touching play, this mostly reverent revival never fully envelops you...The stage is so huge for such an intimate piece...Instead of bringing the family together in crisis, it places them in separate voids...The play works best when it deals with the intimate subjects like the path the two sisters took...The performances shine...One wonders if 'Marvin’s Room' could have been much more immediate and immersive had it played at the more intimate Laura Pels Theatre."
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Act Three - The Reviews
June 29th, 2017

"Lili Taylor and Janeane Garofalo and Celia Weston form a magnificent trio of family lost and floundering with life at large. But in their efforts. they are flat. Completely flat. Other than a few laughs and a few serious moments, I never even felt these three women were family...It seems the trend these days: strip away the costumes, the set, the makeup and glamour and lay bare the script for all. Well, it hasn't always worked in the past, and employing the gimmick this time hasn't either."
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The Wrap
June 29th, 2017

"McPherson had a keen sense of family dynamics and the need for pitch-black humor in the face of tragedy—a balance that's finely maintained in the hands of director Anne Kauffman in this revival...Taylor is the rare actor who seems to shrug off her charisma while never actually letting it go...And Garofalo brings a spiky energy to her performance that’s just right."
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Reflections in the Light
July 8th, 2017

“Very good performances across the board and insightful direction by Anne Kauffman allow the characters to express their true feelings in looks, tone and body language, where the dialogue creates a false impression that everyone isn't as unhappy as you think they must be...The characters never ring true, however...There is a whole lot of unspoken tension that never gets spoken or resolved.”
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Z
June 30th, 2017

"The bad news is that other than a half-minute scene, I spent most of the evening wondering why this off-Broadway play was revived in the first place...For people with a whole lot wrong in their lives, they are a pretty dull bunch. The only player who enlivens the action is Celia Weston as dotty Aunt Ruth...The proceedings proceed at an almost stately pace. Or maybe it just seems that way, since the performances are so muted that every scene hits the same notes."
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Indy East End
July 26th, 2017

"Rediscovering Scott McPherson's iconic comedy is eventful in and of itself. Writing during the AIDS epidemic, McPherson captured catastrophic times with a sense of levity, demonstrating a bountiful gift for writing natural dialogue and unique, well-rounded characters...Brilliantly cast with Lili Taylor as Bessie and Janeane Garofalo as her sister, Lee...McPherson whimsically juggles the real and the unreal, the sick and the inane."
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Stage and Cinema
July 9th, 2017

"The story is straightforward, told simply, about real people with real problems. We empathize with the characters and sympathize with their plight. Kauffman’s tempered direction brings us gently into the show’s world, and unassailable performances from the excellent cast keep us immersed in its details...A tasty stew of family drama. Though I prefer my drama with a bit more spice. 'Marvin's Room' never transcends its everyday realism and never really puts any of its characters to the fire."
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Edge New York
July 13th, 2017

"Some of the humor is overly broad, but even when the characters seem a little much, there is a kernel of reality in them. One of the pleasures of the play is that it is about regular folks dealing with real-life struggles—but without any of the self-consciousness...You couldn't have asked for a more perfectly cast pair of sisters...Overall, this is a great cast taking on a 'pretty good' play. 'Marvin's Room' is not a classic, but it is an often touching and funny drama."
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