Maine premiere of this recent Broadway hit Nominated for 2011 Tony Award for Best Play
Denise Poirier, James Hoban and Amy Roche lead a cast of six
Directed by Brian P. Allen
A woman from South Boston who didn't get out meets an old boyfriend, now a doctor, who got out and has moved back "home."
With humor, Lindsay-Abaire explores the struggles, shifting loyalties and unshakeable hopes that come with having next to nothing in America. Set in Boston’s Southie neighborhood, where a night on the town means a few rounds of bingo, where this month’s paycheck covers last month’s bills, we meet Margaret, who is facing eviction and scrambling to catch a break. When a friend from the old neighborhood, who is now very successful, moves back to town, Margaret hopes he may be the ticket to turning her life around.
“Lindsay-Abaire’s wrenching Good People is the most substantial new play since August: Osage County... It has a quality rarely seen on Broadway – it seems necessary.” - Adam Feldman, Timeout New York
“If Good People isn’t a hit for Manhattan Theatre Club, there is no justice in the land” - Marilyn Stasio, Variety
“As tough as it is tender, and shot through with aching authenticity, Good People is that rare play that is timeless and keyed into a specific moment of American life...” - David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter
GOOD CAST, GOOD QUESTIONS MAKE ‘GOOD PEOPLE’ EXCELLENT THEATER
Maine Sunday Telegram, by April Boyle 10/14/2012
In these hard economic times, many Americans may wonder how the choices they have made have shaped their lives. Is it all about the paths we choose? Or, are some people just born luckier than others?
The Good Theater is giving voice to these questions and more with the Maine premiere of David Lindsay-Abaire's "Good People."
The play provides an intimate glimpse into the life of Margie Walsh (Denise Poirier), a middle-aged, single mother of an adult mentally challenged daughter. The South Boston native is barely making ends meet working as a dollar-store clerk for just slightly more than $9 an hour. Her boss, Stevie (Jesse Leighton), is the son of a former classmate.
As the play opens, Margie is fired for repeatedly showing up late for work due to child care issues.
It's a story that is all too familiar in this day and age. And one that clearly held appeal for patrons at the packed Good Theater Friday night.
Laughter mingled with emotion as Margie's life unfolded on stage. The Good Theater has assembled a dynamic cast led by Poirier as the spunky Southie who never gives up, no matter what hardships life throws her way.
As a part-time actress living in New York, the 50-year-old Maine native knows what it's like to fight for her dreams. Poirier delved into this resilience Friday, bringing realism and depth to the role. She further captured the character with a full-blown Southie accent and attitude, imbued with an impeccable comic timing that cracked up both the audience and cast.
Suzanne Rankin and Amy Roche added sass and pluck as Margie's landlady, Dottie, and best friend, Jean. The pair played off each other like Abbott and Costello, providing flavorful cultural context to Margie's life.
The disparate differences between the haves and the have-nots is one of many ongoing themes explored in "Good People." James Noel Hoban (Mike) and Noelle LuSane (Kate) lent passionate performances Friday that flushed out this dichotomy, all the while posing more questions.
Mike, Margie's ex-boyfriend, escaped South Boston to become a doctor living in Chestnut Hill, a wealthy suburb of Boston. He lives a "lace curtain" life with his socialite wife, Kate, and their young daughter. But is his life really better? Is he one of the "good people"?
Leighton rounded out the well-chosen cast as Margie's misunderstood, maligned young boss. He nailed the role, with an underlying compassion and humility.
We are all shaped by the choices we make and the opportunities afforded us. But, in the end, it's not always easy to tell who the "good people" really are, or to define what constitutes a good life.
"Good People" offers a relevant and thought-provoking portrayal of life that the average person can identify with on some level. We've all made good and bad choices, but how we handle those choices ultimately defines our true character.
‘GOOD PEOPLE’ OPENS SEASON AT GOOD THEATER
The Forecaster, by Scott Andrews, 10/15/2012
Engineers tell us that the triangle is the most stable geometric form, employing terms such as “invariant under stress.” But writers and dramatists have long known that the romantic triangle is one of life’s most unstable forms, prone to messy collapse under stress.
The tensions caused by an unusual romantic triangle in extremely stressful economic and social circumstances is the driving dynamic behind David Lindsay-Abaire’s latest drama, “Good People.” Portland’s Good Theater, the city’s top-notch professional company, has mounted a fine production of this excellent script as the opening show in its 11th season.
The two contrasting settings reflect the social and economic tension: the gritty neighborhood of South Boston and posh suburban Chestnut Hill. The principal character is a single mom who has lived in Southie all her life, while her former high school lover has become a very successful doctor who now lives in a big house in the wealthy suburb. After a hiatus of nearly two decades, the two confront each other. Plus there’s a major complication: the doctor’s strained relationship with his elegant black wife, who hails from an equally posh background in Washington, D.C.
Emotional fireworks explode, ignited by fine performances by the three principals: Denise Poirier and James Noel Hoban, who both hail from southern Maine, and Noelle LuSane, a New York actress. Plus there’s excellent support from three others: Jesse Leighton, Suzanne Rankin and Amy Roche. Director Brian P. Allen, Good Theater’s co-founder and artistic director, helms this production admirably.
GOOD THEATER EXPLORES BEING STUCK, AND ESCAPING
The Portland Phoenix, by Megan Grumbling, 10/17/2012
The wood walls are streaky and weathered in the homes of both Margie (Denise Poirier) and Mike (James Noel Hoban). But where Margie's walls are aging in a working-class apartment, in the same rough South Boston neighborhood where they were raised, Mike's are the result of trendily "distressed" interior design, in an affluent Boston suburb. The Good Theater lets the same walls stand for both settings, juxtaposing the reality and the romanticizing of poverty, in its smart and sympathetic production of the David Lindsay-Abaire's drama Good People. Under the sensitive direction of Brian P. Allen, the show brings Margie and Mike back together to explore the trials, mythology, and escape plans of life in the projects.
Thirty years after Margie and Mike and last saw each other in high school, she is a single mother of a severely developmentally disabled adult daughter, and recently fired from her job as a cashier at the dollar store. She's desperate enough to pay the rent that when her friend Jean (Amy Roche) mentions having run into Mike at a Boys and Girls Club benefit (Jean was with the caterers, while Mike, now a wealthy doctor, is on the board and a Southie success-story), Margie works up the gumption to call on him for help finding work. Their reunion is a fraught and sometimes unkind one, as each broaches what the other knows, believes, and tells of the histories that brought them to where they are in life.
As the tough-tongued, hard-luck Margie, the superb Poirier makes the woman's vulnerabilities clear from the beginning. Though her Margie cusses and manipulates, she also has a wary gentleness in her gaze. In her first moments visiting with Mike, we see at once her insecurity, her pride, and her eagerness. When she joshes him, it comes across as good-willed, and when she first really upsets him — in commenting that he's become "lace-curtain" — she seems to be more excited than vindictive. For his part, Mike seems to take a genuinely friendly interest in her, despite not having returned any of her calls; Hoban's Mike comes off as a mensch rather than an uppity asshole. That's crucial to the complexity of their dynamics when Margie later intrudes upon the home Mike shares with his professor wife Kate (Noelle LuSane).
Kate, the daughter of a Georgetown doctor, has always had money, and LuSane is perfectly cast — she's poised, sleek, lovely, and eminently likeable. She makes beautiful work of how Kate notices Margie's cultural differences from herself but also how a privileged liberal takes care to avoid acknowledging her awareness of them. She also convincingly portrays Kate's pendulum of belief and loyalty, as Margie's version of history increasingly challenges the one Mike has been telling his wife and himself. As the visit degenerates, Poirier and Hoban exude both rage and a ghost of an old rapport, even after unforgivable things have been said.
Still, in the end, Margie is back in Southie where she started. Allen's cast of Southie neighbors, including Roche, Jesse Leighton, and Suzanne Rankin, excel in their brash, bawdy banter; in moments when a key reveal breaks through the ribbing, the pacing might slow just an extra beat or two. All said, the Good Theater presents a poignant, challenging, and often wrenching portrait of a woman stuck in poverty and a man who escaped it. It does so at a time in America when questions of how these classes understand each other could hardly be more of the moment.
Margaret – Denise Poirier*
Stevie – Jesse Leighton
Dottie – Suzanne Rankin
Jean – Amy Roche
Mike – James Hoban*
Kate – Noelle LuSane
* Member Actors' Equity Association