It’s rare when the stars align and every single aspect of a play is just really wonderful. Good People, making its Los Angeles premiere at the Geffen Playhouse, is really wonderful for exactly that reason. And by that I mean, all those reasons… every component of this production is spot on.
Great story. David Lindsay-Abaire (playwright) tells the tale from his hometown of South Boston’s Lower End. Margie (Jane Kaczmarek) has just been fired from her job as a cashier at the Dollar Store, for arriving late one too many times. She cites the fact that she is caring for her severely retarded adult child, as the reason. But her boss, Stevie (Brad Fleischer) the child of a dear deceased friend, is forced from the powers above, to let her go, regardless. Her landlord, Dottie (MaryLouise Burke) is simultaneously supportive but brutal in questioning where future rent money will come from. Her best friend, Jean (Sara Botsford) lightens the mood and offers distraction, but is unable to provide any real help. Desperate for a job, Margie looks up an old High School sweetheart, Mike (Jon Tenney) who has risen above his circumstances and become a doctor in the affluent Chestnut Hill area, in hopes he may have work, or know someone who does. Up to this point, you may feel like you are watching a comedy. DLA is generous with the humor (if you are familiar with his work, this will not be a surprise) even when dealing with serious issues. From the point of Maggie’s surprise arrival at Mike and his beautiful wife, (Cherise Boothe) Kate’s sprawling home, the tone of the story takes a turn leaving you helpless in keeping the wheels in your mind from turning. But why would you stop that process? The loaded issues of class in America and the cards one is dealt is compelling stuff for the mind.
Great subject. As I just stated, class in America is a worthy subject to ponder… a great discussion to have over coffee or cocktails. Was it luck, hard work, or the kindness of Margie that allowed Mike to rise above his circumstances and become a worldly success? Each and every character in this story offers their own perspective and answer to this important question. Surely you will, too.
Great acting. I’m pretty sure I can’t gush enough. No weak link. One of the best ensemble casts I have ever seen in Los Angeles. Appreciate good acting? Go see this show. Bravo to director, Matt Shakman, (founder and artistic director of the acclaimed Black Dahlia Theatre in LA) for being the captain of a tip-top ship, fine-tuning their brilliance and setting the perfect pace.
Great production value. Sometimes the set can truly further the story… this is the case here. Set designer Craig Siebels does a fine job of creating the various spaces without over or under-doing it. Costume designer, E. B. Brooks pulled some frighteningly appropriate “Southie” clothes for our friends… in sharp, but not stereotypical contrast to the privileged couple. And my hat goes off to lighting designer, Elizabeth Harper for setting the tone, but not taking over. Gold stars all around.
If I was made to give one less than glowing comment about the show, it would be that I thoroughly enjoyed the show, would recommend it to everyone, but don’t necessarily feel that I ever need to see it again. Often times, when I really feel passionately about a show, I immediately want to see it again, or know that I will the next time it comes around. Although I am passionate about the themes/issues the show is centered around, I feel that it is mostly a well-told story with thought provoking characters in a compelling situation. I am glad I heard it. I don’t need to hear the story again. It was told to the point of perfection, this time.
I am, however, still considering who exactly the “Good People” are in this story.
Go. Go. Go.
10886 Le Conte Ave.
Tues-Friday: 8:00 pm
Saturday: 3:00 and 8:00 pm
Sunday: 2:00 and 7:00 pm
Thru May 13th
(Ticket prices are all over the map…
The good news: it’s getting easier and easier to find affordable tickets to the Geffen.