Dark comedy 'Marvin's Room' being performed by University Theatre

The darkly funny play, "Marvin's Room," performed by CMU University Theatre, uses humor to chronicle a dysfunctional family bonding through crisis and conflict.

The remaining performances of "Marvin’s Room" are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on April 7-9 and 2 p.m. on April 10 at Theatre-On-The-Side in Moore Hall, located near Bush Theatre. 

"Marvin’s Room" is about the bond within family in the face of adversity. Bessie, a lead character, takes care of her aunt and father, Marvin. 

Bessie is diagnosed with leukemia, which causes her to call her sister, Lee, in hopes of being compatible for a bone marrow transplant. 

Through the play’s use of dark humor, the family tries to work through its issues in a relatable way to the audience. 

The director, communication and dramatic arts faculty Lauren McConnell, said she chose this play because it explored ideas she was interested in.

This is McConnell's first mainstage appearance as director at CMU.

“It asks big questions about what gives your life purpose, who is important in your life, how do you spend your time in regards to what is important,” she said.

McConnell said she reflected on the play because of the death of someone close to her that occurred in 2014.

“Part of the play deals with issues of caregiving and what your responsibilities are as a family,” McConnell said. “I chose this play because of my own recent experiences with caregiving.”

Macomb senior Marcie Herbert plays Bessie. She said she has never heard of play until announcements of its upcoming production.

“It’s a really touching show about human life,” Herbert said. “What I love about the role is when I first read the play, there were so many relatable things to Bessie character even though she’s 40 years old.” 

The cast for Marvin’s Room had been rehearsing for a month and a half, beginning Feb. 15. Typically they rehearsed six days a week for three hours each day. 

McConnell said the most difficult thing about preparing for the show was the time slot they were given. 

“We had spring break, snow days where rehearsal was cancelled and we had to rehearse on Easter Sunday,” McConnell said. “Schedule-wise, this particular time slot is kind of a challenge, but the cast was really good at coming back and getting ready to go.”

Herbert said she hopes when the audience watches the play they take away a sense of struggle families go through every day.

“It’s heartbreakingly beautiful but sad, which makes the audience feel something instead of it being sappy with a happy ending,” Herbert said. “Real life is not always like that.”

Tickets can be purchased from Ticket Central in the CMU Events Center or over the phone (989) 774-3045. Tickets purchased in advance range from $7 to $9 and will cost $10 at the door.