Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Good People ***

David Lindsay-Abaire seems to reinvent himself with each new play for Manhattan Theater Club. His reputation rose with the quirky Fuddy Mears, took a hit after the awful Wonder of the World, and soared with his Pulitzer-winning Rabbit Hole. Now along comes Good People, which doesn't resemble any of his earlier plays. There's a strong autobiographic element in that the play mostly takes place in South Boston, the blue-class Irish stronghold where Lindsay (no Abaire at that point) grew up. The two main characters are Margaret, whose life has been a series of hard knocks and Mike, who had the intelligence, charm and luck to escape Southie to become a doctor with a home in tony Chestnut Hill. During the summer before he left for college, Mike and Margaret dated. They have not seen each other since. As ably played by Frances McDormand, Margaret raises passive aggression to an art form -- she knows where to draw the line, but then has an irresistible urge to cross it. Mike, suavely played by Tate Donovan, ignores several calls he gets from Margaret, who then roars back into his life like a tornado. Estelle Parsons creates a memorable character as Dottie, her landlady and babysitter. Becky Ann Baker is fine as Jean, the friend who loves to stir up trouble. The gorgeous Renee Elise Goldsberry excels as Mike's wife Kate. Patrick Carroll is sympathetic as Margaret's ex-boss and fellow bingo player. Each of John Lee Beatty's sets vividly creates a milieu and the set changes between scenes are admirably smooth. Daniel Sullivan's direction is assured. The play explores the gap between what a person says and what the other person hears.While there are a few plot developments that you will probably see coming, there is much here to admire.

4 comments:

Marcia Hearst said...

I agree as usual. The scenes with the three actresses are worth the pice of admission. McDormand's timing is terrific and Parsons creates a fully realized comic character with a twitch of an eyebrow.

Bob said...

Thanks for your comment, Marcia.

Anonymous said...

HI - I saw it. I liked it. The cast was admirably good. Now it is a month or so later and I can hardly remember it. This is not true of other plays I've seen, so I am not attributing it to a faulty memory.
Judy

Bob said...

That's interesting, Judy. Much as I enjoyed it at the time, the play itself (not the performances) has not remained vivid in my memory either.