A Tale of Class and Morality in Southie

Photo Credit: T. Charles Erickson

Good People
by David Lindsay-Abaire
Directed by Kate Whoriskey

presented by Huntington Theatre Company Website
Huntington Theatre Company Facebook Page
Avenue of the Arts / BU Theatre, 264 Huntington Avenue, Boston
September 14 – October 14, 2012

Review by Kitty Drexel

(Boston) David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People is a modern comedy of errors that takes place in South Boston. This production toes the line between comedy and drama. It features a star-studded cast which embodies the beloved Boston stereotypes made famous by movies like The Town and Mystic River. Amidst a healthy peppering of Boston in-jokes, it explores class divisions while characters attempt to define what it is to be a “good person.”

Margie Walsh (Johanna Day) has just been fired from her retail job at by Stevie (a baby-faced Nick Westrate), has a mentally disabled adult daughter and can’t make this month’s rent. She is dysfunctionally supported by her friends Dottie and Jean (Nancy E. Carroll and Karen MacDonald). When Jean suggests that Margie ask her old flame Mike (Michael Laurence), a fertility doctor, for a job, both hilarity and drama ensue.

Our actors make their characters loveable while infusing them with brutal honesty. The Southie personas are crass and downtrodden but they are proud. In specific, Day’s Margie is “The Girl Next Door” with the same charm and sweetness you’d expect but with mouth like a dirty sailor. Day portrays Margie with a sass befitting any proper Boston-Irish lass.

Conversely, Laurence initially presents antagonist Dr. Mike as a polite but hectic man – the typical doctor. His wife, Kate (played an endearing and smart Rachael Holmes), is an emotional barometer who measures against his casual negligence; Kate is kind when Mike is brusque.

Lindsay-Abaire flips personality assumptions upside down. Good People tugs on the heart-sleeves because the script drips with painful truths. One laughs because otherwise one would have to cry. These characters are flawed just like the everyman and like the everyman they are quick to blame others for fault rather their own immorality. They swiftly learn that class and opportunity do not necessarily determine moral purity.

Good People is a well executed production that bursts to the seams with craftsmanship. From the excellent acting to the ingenious set design, the entire show is sure to entertain and invigorate. It may also encourage one to examine their own definition of what it means to be a good person.

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