Saturday, February 19, 2022

MARVIN'S ROOM at Actors Co-Op


In no particular order:  Tara Battani, Justin Bowles, Francesca Casale*, Brian Habicht*, Dean Hermansen, Crystal Jackson, Marek Meyers & Kimi Walker*

At last!  As news of the return of health brings us cautiously back to the theatre, Actors Co-Op resumes with Scott McPherson's 1990 play, "Marvin's Room"..  ironically discussing the end of life. Bessie (Francesca Casale) is Marvin's dedicated daughter. Her sister, Lee (Tara Battani), has been absent.  It's a classic "family battle, reconciliation, what about dad" story that, with dark humor illustrates what most of us confront or fail to deal with, as time marches inexorably on. 
Bessie has opted to stay in Florida and tend to their aging dad. She's helping Aunt Ruth, too.

Bessie's diagnosis of leukemia has summoned Lee and her boys in search of a bone marrow donor.  Marvin (whom we only hear from time to time) is mostly wasting away in his room as McPherson's  exposition lends itself to the irony of how each character has an issue and to resolve issues, some form of intimate communication is required.  Don't hug Aunt Ruth too hard!

 Into the salad we toss Lee's son,  Hank (Dean Hermansen), on leave from the loony bin.  He's at just an age to be a problematic teen on top of his incarceration for burning down his family's home.  Little brother Charlie (Marek Meyers) arrives with his mom and brother because he has no choice. The kid's a reader.

When the electronic device that is supposed to help dotty Aunt Ruth's (Crystal Yvonne Jackson.. who also produced the show) bad back malfunctions?  The garage door may open or close.  

At rise Bessie is doing her best to hold it together as Dr. Wally (Brian Habitch) turns the show into a sort of sitcom with the opening night crowd completely on board. Not only is every punch line thoroughly enjoyed by the audience, but the broad humor in the face of impending doom for Bessie runs at an unusual counterpoint.

Attendees laughed uproariously and applauded every scene. The scene changes on  Nicholas Acciani's beautiful turn table set are a highlight of the show.  It made me hope that this company may tackle "Noices Off!" in the future.

Director Thomas James O'Leary has his hands full with some actors taking their time to settle into what is, simply: one story: how family survives.  The broadest character change falls to Lee, who initially is so far over the top that her energy literally buzzes off the stage.  As she comes around to a genuine love and reunion with Bessie, Lee pretty much wins the day.

This is a 'straight' play by a gay playwright who succumbed to AIDs a short two years after the play's original production  The characters are drawn in mostly believable terms. They deliver with few surprises. Comic relief by Halbick and Justin Bowles as Bob are welcome.  Acciani's set and Avery Reagan's appropriate lights and David B Marling's sound lend a professional feeling to the piece.  I am unsure if it is the writing or the production itself that left me wishing for more. For those who value comfortable theatre with sincere effort all around, this is the show for you.


  Written by Scott McPherson

      Directed by Thomas James O’Leary

   February 18 – March 27, 2022

   Friday and Saturday Evenings at 8:00 pm

      Special Saturday Matinees March 5 & March 12 at 2:30 pm

               Sunday Matinees at 2:30 pm               

Actors Co-op’s David Schall Theatre

1760 N. Gower Street

Hollywood 90028, on the campus of First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood

FREE PARKING: Available in the church parking lot and on local streets without meters.

TICKETS: Adults: $35, Seniors (60+) $30, Students w/School ID: $25. Group Rates and Student Rush Fridays (excluding

 opening night) available.  


 (323) 462-8460 or visit

Current covid policy:  Patrons must show proof of full vaccination and wear a mask while inside the theater complex. Updated Covid Policy Information can be found at



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