What’s On: Marvin’s Room (Ad Astra)

Marvin’s Room

1 – 24 September 2022

Ad Astra, Fortitude Valley


Set in Florida, Scott McPherson’s Marvin’s Room throws together characters who are dealing with aging, estrangement, mental illness, carer fatigue, and ties that bind a family; this play has a heart that is visible only once you excavate the layers of frustration, conflict, nostalgia, habit and facade which are the everyday stuff of life for all families.

Bessie lives in Florida, where she moved to care for her father Marvin who “has been dying for twenty years” and her aunt Ruth, who has been crippled with back pain until a recent ‘cure’ which involved an electronic implant (with an occasional inconvenient side effect of opening the garage door). Bessie is now facing her own difficult diagnosis, so she needs to call on help from her long-estranged sister Lee. Brash Lee arrives with both real and metaphorical baggage, including her two sons – 17-year-old Hank, who is on leave from a mental institution following an incident that burned down several houses, and 14-year-old Charlie, withdrawn and isolated.

The renegotiation of relationships, boundaries, and roles challenges both women. After twenty years in the self-imposed roles of the ‘martyr’ and the ‘wild one’; the siblings have to return to the origins of their division in order to move forward. The challenges of Hank’s criminal tendencies and Ruth’s eccentricities derail and divert their attempts to reshape their family at times, while the one constant in their lives – the unseen presence of Marvin – ties them together, against a background of dealing with a range of odd and dubious medical professionals.

McPherson’s script received a number of Drama Desk awards, and the play has had several Broadway runs. In 1996, it was adapted as a film of the same name with a cast that included Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton, and Leonardo DiCaprio, and Keaton received an Academy Award Best Actress nomination for her performance as Bessie.

Award-winning Queensland director of the Ad Astra production, Roslyn Johnson, writes that: “Marvin’s Room is a bittersweet and at times, delightfully comic study of a family learning to love the ties that bind. A ‘dramedy’, this play will resonate with anyone who has dealt with issues of family, mortality and caring.”

Ad Astra’s production will feature a cast including Fiona Kennedy, Elise Lamb, Phillipa Bowe, Jayden McGinlay, Kieran McGinlay, Tom Harwood, Marita McVeigh and Nicholas Sayers.


For ticketing and further information, visit the Ad Astra website.


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