For the inaugural production in its new space last summer, Raven Theatre staged Chicago playwright Scott McPherson’s Marvin’s Room. Extended once again, this wonderful comedy drama celebrates life and love while confronting serious illness with humor, honesty, and an eye for human frailty. A wounded family beset by illness is brought together by yet another member’s medical emergency. It’s not easy for sisters Bessie and Lee to forgive each other, much less bond, after almost two decades of estrangement. Nor is Lee particularly successful mothering her boys, the oldest of whom, Hank, is a troubled teenager released from a mental institution in order to make the trip to Bessie’s home. But McPherson (who died ten years ago) and director Michael Menendian manage to avoid overwrought sentimentality. The Raven performers do a fine job of drawing us in, particularly new cast member Ron Fagin, who makes Hank’s silent suffering expressive, and Esther McCormick, excellent as the wacky Aunt Ruth. Raven Theatre, 6157 N. Clark, 773-338-2177. Through January 25: Fridays-Saturdays, 8 PM; Sundays, 3 PM; no shows December 20-22. $20-$24.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Dean Laprairie.