Director Tim Thompson of Three Rivers’ Center Stage says it never occurred to him what a topical play “Marvin’s Room” is for October, which is highly recognized as cancer awareness month.
“I wish I could say I planned that,” laughed Thompson, “but it honestly never occurred to me.”
Thompson recalls that he first saw the play at an International Thespian Festival in the early 1990’s. It was later made into a movie starring Meryl Streep, Leonardo DiCaprio, Diane Keaton, Hume Cronyn, and Robert DeNiro.
Thompson said he immediately loved the play because of the glimpse “into the human condition.”
It was written by Scott McPherson, who sadly never really got to see the impact of the play. He died at age 33 in New York of AIDS-related complications.
The play is actually about how a family deals with cancer, another life-threatening illness.
Any family who has dealt with critical illness will recognize their story in this story. McPherson wrote it in such a way that it poked some fun at the American institutions of family and the medical profession, and even the psychiatric profession.
“Really what McPherson was writing about was the love of a family, even when that family has its share of dysfunction,” explained Thompson.
None of the characters are perfect, each fighting their own personal battles, including the doctor, struggling to run a medical practice giving professional care, in less than perfect conditions.
Thompson notes that his cast comes from students and instructors from the TRC campus, as well as members of the community, of all ages and backgrounds.
The cast includes Gaelle Freer as Bessie; Steve Lewis as Dr. Wally; Brenda Russell as Ruth; Michael Starnes as Bob; Misty Everett as Lee; Karemenah Adams as Dr. Charlotte; Davis Summers as Hank; Christian Todd as Charlie; Meagan Woodruff as the nursing home director; and Michael Starnes as Marvin.
“This story is about people, and how people react under some very stressful situations,” concluded Thompson. “Anyone who has ever been through a serious illness in their family knows that even in the very worst situations, there is always some humor. People can be at their worst in those situations, and at their very best. Usually we see both. And often in those moments we find ourselves laughing at one moment, and sometimes crying in the next. That’s because we are human, and that is exactly what this play is about.”
“Marvin’s Room” will be presented Friday and Saturday, Oct. 17 and 18, at 7 p.m. at the Tinnin Fine Arts Center. A 2 p.m. matinee will be Sunday, Oct. 19 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10, or $5 with a valid Three Rivers student ID.
Tickets are available at the Poplar Bluff Chamber of Commerce, the Financial Services Office at Three Rivers, or at the door.