Review: ‘Good People’ at Marin Theatre Company (****)

(Charles Kruger)

(Rating: *****)

This reviewer is a voting associate member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)
This reviewer is a voting associate member of the San Francisco Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle (SFBATCC)

(“Good People” plays at The Marin Theatre Company from August 22 through September 15, 2013.)

David Lindsay-Abaire is a playwright to reckon with, having won the Pulitzer Prize for “Rabbit Hole” in 2007, which also garnered numerous Tony nominations. In 2011, “Good People” debuted on Broadway. The production was nominated for two Tony’s: Best Play (losing to “War Horse”) and Best Actress (awarded to Frances McDormand).

In 2013, “Good People” is the most-produced new play in the United States. A number of local companies competed for the privilege of debuting “Good People” in the Bay Area.  Marin Theatre Company got it, brought in up-and-coming director Tracy Young for MTC debut, and has delivered a first rate production.

Playwright David Lindsay-Abaire says that he wanted to address issues of class, something that isn’t often addressed in American plays. He writes out of his own experience: he was raised working class in South Boston but was sent on scholarship to a prep school where he experienced class differences vividly at first hand.

“Good People” is set amongst struggling working class folk. Margie (Amy Resnick) has lost her job at the Dollar Store, because of chronic lateness as a result of caring for her adult, developmentally-disabled daughter. In desperation, she contacts Mike (Mark Anderson Phillips), a former high school boyfriend who has become a successful physician with a beautiful home in an upscale neighborhood. She visits his office (where he offers no work) and she manipulates him into inviting her to a party at his home. When he calls to cancel, claiming a sick child, she is convinced that he is lying and shows up anyway. She finds no party (he was telling the truth) but is invited to visit by Mike’s curious wife, Kate (ZZ Moor).

The stage is then set for a profound encounter across class lines, with Margie accusing Mike of forgetting his roots, calling him “lace curtain Irish” and Mike insisting that Margie’s poor condition is the result of poor choices. The debate is lively, well grounded in character, and thought provoking. Several surprising complications keep it interesting. These are all good people, but their perspectives are so profoundly different that the truths of which they are convinced cannot be the same. Nobody lies out right, yet nobody tells the same story.

The play is saved from being overly didactic by excellent acting and a fine supporting cast of Margie’s South Boston friends who provide a kind of chorus to the main action. Ben Euphrat, Anne Darragh and Jamie Jones are all excellent.

This important and influential play is well worth seeing.

For further information, click here.

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“Good People” by David Lindsay-Abaire, produced by Marin Theatre Company. Director: Tracy Young. Scenic Designer: Nina Ball. Lighting Designer: Gabe Maxson. Costume Designer: Heidi Leigh Hanson. Sound Designer & Composer: Chris Houston. 

Margaret: Amy Resnick. Stevie: Ben Euphrat. Dottie: Anne Darragh. Jean: Jamies Jones. Mike: Mark Anderson Phillips. Kate: ZZ Moor.

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