Marvin's Room | Redtwist Theatre | Theater & Performance | Chicago Reader

Marvin's Room The Short List (Theater) Closing (Theater and Galleries)

When: Thursdays-Sundays. Continues through Jan. 31 2009

Scott McPherson's 1990 play--about a loopily dysfunctional family lurching toward reconciliation in the face of multiple grave illnesses--is a kind of screwball tearjerker, at such stylistic odds with itself it requires sustained brilliance to make its two hours cohere convincingly. Redtwist Theatre's cast are more in tune with the script's tear-jerking side, often capturing myriad painful undercurrents in seemingly innocuous familial encounters. Jan Ellen Graves as leukemia-stricken Bessie and Sam Johnston as her troubled adolescent nephew give particularly nuanced performances, and their two extended scenes together are the production's highlights. But director Michael Ryczek's methodical pacing rarely allows comedic rhythms to develop, making the script's already forced screwball elements feel heavy and out of place. --Justin Hayford

Price: $22-$30

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