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Good People

a Comedy
by David Linsay-Abaire

COMPANY : Out of Box Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Artisan Resource Center
ID# 4878

SHOWING : April 08, 2016 - April 23, 2016



Welcome to Southie, a Boston neighborhood where a night on the town means a few rounds of bingo, where this month’s paycheck covers last month’s bills, and where Margie Walsh (portrayed by award-winning actor Amanda Cucher) has just been let go from yet another job. Facing eviction and scrambling to catch a break, Margie thinks an old fling who’s made it out of Southie might be her ticket to a fresh new start. But is this apparently self-made man secure enough to face his humble beginnings? Margie is about to risk what little she has left to find out.

With his signature humorous glow, Lindsay-Abaire explores the struggles, shifting loyalties and unshakeable hopes that come with having next to nothing in America. An insightful comedy of class and culture, this Broadway hit is darkly funny and surprisingly touching.

From Variety on GOOD PEOPLE, "David Lindsay-Abaire pays his respects to his old South Boston neighborhood with this tough and tender play about the insurmountable class divide between those who make it out of this blue-collar Irish neighborhood and those who find themselves left behind. The scrappy characters have tremendous appeal, and the moral dilemma they grapple with—is it strength of character or just a few lucky breaks that determines a person’s fate?—holds special significance in today’s harsh economic climate.”

Director Matthew Busch
Dr. Michael Dillon William Brooks
Margaret "Margie" Walsh Amanda Cucher
Dottie Gillis Liane Lemaster
Kate Mystie D. Smith
Stevie Grimes Jeffrey Sneed
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Nice and Not Nice
by playgoer
Sunday, April 10, 2016
"Good People," by David Lindsay-Abaire, places its focus on Margie (Amanda Cucher), a Southie from Boston who reunites with an old boyfriend who has made good. It’s good timing, she thinks, since she’s fresh out of a job and he might have connections to a new job for her. But are the connections she makes with the people around her the connections of a person who is truly good at heart? With the way Margie stirs things up, you begin to wonder...

With five separate settings for the six scenes of the play, the script does not seem well-suited to the tiny Out of Box playing space. Set designer Maya Hublikar has done a remarkable job of squeezing them all in. The first act stage is split in two, with Margie’s kitchen stage left and the office of Dr. Michael Dillon (Will Brooks) stage right, their floors (tile and wood, respectively) nicely painted and clearly demarking the spaces. For act two, the stage becomes the elegant home of Dr. Michael Dillon and his wife Kate (Mystie D. Smith), with some furniture repurposed and with rugs covering the tile floor. Scenes using the other two settings (the back room or alley of a store and a bingo parlor table) play in front of the stage.

Nina Gooch’s lighting design illuminates these various areas well, and Carolyn Choe’s sound design does a wonderful job of making television noise, bingo announcements, and a child’s voice all appear to come from the appropriate offstage locations. What can’t be helped, though, is that the scenes in front of the stage are so close to the audience that audience members’ heads can easily block the view of others beside or behind them. Director Matthew Busch has also directed some of the first-act scenes with two characters on one side of the stage speaking face-to-face with one another, which may be fine for audience members on that side, but which tends to give back-of-head views to people on the other side of the audience.

Blocking issues aside, Mr. Busch has done a wonderful job of shaping the material. Performances are excellent across the board, and the ebb and flow of activity and emotional levels never flags or goes off the rails. Accents are a good approximation of the Southie accent too, if not totally consistent from character to character. It’s especially impressive how Dr. Dillon slips into and out of a Southie accent as he gets engrossed in or distances himself from his past.

Amanda Cucher is wonderful in the central role of Margie, with her snappy comedic timing never interfering with the believability of her character. Liane LeMaster and LeeAnna Lambert, as her friends Dottie and Jean, are more completely comic characters, and they each give their characters just the right intonations and expressions to make the comedy fly. Will Brooks, as Michael, has wonderful reactions, getting belly laughs just from his responses to the situations his wife and Margie put him in. Mystie D. Smith, as Michael’s wife, is splendid in the role of a privileged doctor’s wife. Jeffrey Sneed, as the boss who fires Margie and then sits at the bingo table with her and her friends, gives a nice put-upon performance, with a core of true concern shining through.

The only thing less than optimal in the casting is the age of the actors. There’s a script reference to most of them being about 30 years out of high school, and only Liane LeMaster seems of an age to pull that off. Kate is also referred to as being considerably younger than Michael, which doesn’t seem to be the case here. The lack of much age difference between Mr. Sneed and Ms. Cucher also allows a hint of romance between their characters that probably isn’t intended by the script.

Aside from the actors playing characters of ages different from their own, the script works marvelously, letting us sympathize with Margie’s plight while simultaneously wincing at her abrasive behavior. Ms. Cucher gives an indelible performance, cementing her reputation as the go-to-gal for quirky, one-of-a-kind roles, and she is surrounded by able actors and technicians, and supported by a promising director in Matthew Busch. [POST A COMMENT REGARDING THIS REVIEW]


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