Theatre Review: “Good People”
David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Good People,” directed by the supremely talented Anna Johnson for Cadence Theatre Company in partnership with Virginia Repertory Theatre, takes place in the rough neighborhood of South Boston, Massachusetts, a.k.a. “Southie.”
When we meet Margaret, played by Dawn A. Westbrook, she has been fired from her job at the local dollar store due to frequent tardiness. Her reluctant dismissal by her manager Stevie, played by Alexander Sapp, sets in motion a series of events that cause Margaret to question the path her life has taken and to make some choices that are seemingly against her character out of pure desperation.
Margaret and her disabled adult daughter, Joyce, live with Margaret’s friend Dottie, played by Kelly Kennedy, who helps look after Joyce while Margaret’s at work. While Dottie does not charge for her services, she is not entirely reliable and frequently makes Margaret late. Rounding out the crew is the boisterous and outspoken Jean, played by Jacqueline O’Connor, with whom Dottie has a hilarious love/hate relationship.
While the three are meeting for a cup of coffee after Margaret has been fired, mainly due to Dottie’s inconsistency, Jean tells the ladies she recently ran into an old friend from the neighborhood, Mike, played by Jay O. Millman. Mike is now a successful doctor and also happens to be an ex of Margaret’s. Jean suggests Margaret approach Mike for a job, hoping he will show some loyalty to folks from the old neighborhood. What we come to find out is that Mike has no desire to maintain any ties to his youth in Southie and has married a beautiful and much younger woman Kate, played by Katrinah Carol Lewis.
Lindsay-Abaire’s script is authentic and never aggressive. He does an amazing job of highlighting the difficulties of escaping one’s past and showing that no amount of success, or failures, can really change who you are. Johnson has shown once again that she has a real knack for creating the perfectly balanced ensemble cast, with each actor giving equally strong performances.
Dialect coach Janet Rodgers did an exceptional job coaching the cast. I was particularly impressed with the strength of the accents in this production. Westbrook, O’Connor and Kennedy anchor this show with their sassy banter. Every minute they are on stage together is hilarious. Millman and Lewis have a great chemistry onstage, their relationship is believable and natural.
Brian Barker’ set is amazing as always, massive moving panels that can be easily turned to change the setting of the scene quickly. Mclean Jesse’s costumes are perfect, highlighting each character’s individual personality to a tee.
“Good People” is playing through November 9th.
www.va-rep.org for information
Editors notes: This story originally ran with Terrie Powers listed as the set designed, it was actually designed by Brian Barker.
Jen Maciulewicz is theatre critic for GAYRVA.com and is a Richmond local. Jen attended VCU and holds a B.S. in Anthropology. She has starred as Reno Sweeney in Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes" and attended VCU’s School of Music. Follow Jen on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jenlaumac.
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