Reviewed by Haydn Radford
I do feel it is an excellent example of the gritty, ‘real life’ stories that we should see more of on the stage – Nick Fagan.
Perfect production and performances from the cast of David Lindsay- Abaire’s Good People, which won the 2011 New York Drama Critics Award for Best Play. In 2011, Director, Nick Fagan became aware of the play after seeing the rave reviews for actress Frances McDormand playing the lead role in a Broadway production.
Fagan said, “I have a particular affinity with stories that involve characters on the lower rung of the ladder of opportunity, who find themselves in difficult situations, and the lengths they go to survive – this for me was one of those stories.
Set mainly in South Boston, the mainly working-class Irish residents call it, “Southie”. For the most part, it is a very poor part of Boston and the difficult life experiences they have endured can really take a great deal of understanding from an actor when preparing for the role.
When I consider producing a play that is so character-focused with such rich dialogue, I need to ensure that I have a quality cast that can do it justice.”
Fagan, has created a skillfully staged play with complex characters who create a gripping drama that bristles with edgy truth and comic relief that raise questions about how one’s life could have been different? What if I had done this, or I hadn’t done that?
Lead character, Margaret (Margie) Walsh (Rachel Burfield) is on-stage for the full production as the determined, working-class single-parent, struggling with her mentally challenged daughter, Joycey. Margie is desperate for another low-paid job after being sacked and being without enough money to pay her rent – she could become homeless. Margie seizes the opportunity to attend a party of her former short-lived boyfriend of 20 years ago, Mike Dillon (Nicholas Bishop), who escaped Southie and is now a successful doctor, married to an intelligent, beautiful, young African-American wife, Kate (Katie) Dillon (Rhoda Sylvester), who delivers a spot-on performance. They live with their daughter in upmarket Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts. Mike reveals his conflicting feelings of relief of being from Southie and escaping what could have been a dead-end life. He manages to cling to his own romanticised vision of his rough and tumble childhood and street encounters when he spouts his memories of growing up in “Southie.” .
Dottie (Lyn Crowther) supplies comic relief as Margie’s low-class landlady who threatens to evict Margie if she fails to pay her rent. Jean (Cate Rogers) is convincing as Margie’s best friend, while Stevie (Curtis Shipley) portrays her sensitive boss, who is instructed by his boss to fire Margie due to her continually being late for work.
The sets are amazing. The first act is three sets; the rear door of the Dollar Store in the shabby alley where Margie is about to be fired, the room Margie rents from Dottie and Mike’s office. The second act is a spacious living room in the luxurious home of Mike and Kate. The set design is by Brittany Daw, lighting design by Richard Parkhill. The Sound Design by Sean Smith is a number of popular songs from the ’70s which certainly set the mood.
This exciting production is a must-see.