Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Connecticut & the Berkshires


Regional Reviews by Zander Opper

Good People
Square One Theatre Company


Danielle Sultini, Janet Rathert, and Alice McMahon
Good People, David Lindsay-Abaire's 2011 Tony-nominated play, is currently enjoying an excellent, impeccably acted and directed production at the Square One Theatre Company. Good People tells the tale of Margaret, a single mother living in South Boston's Lower End, who, in the first scene, gets fired from her retail job and is left struggling to make ends meet. Margaret is played by the terrific Janet Rathert, who allows the audience to see all sides of Margaret's personality, good and bad.

There is much humor in Good People, but also an underlying feeling of sadness that permeates the play. Lindsay-Abaire's keen ear for dialogue and empathy for his characters, as well as an altogether splendid cast, make Good People an often riveting, ultimately touching theatrical experience.

Margaret is surrounded by a variety of characters who all, in one form or another, are looking to find a better life than the one they are living. It is quite a collection of interesting people. As the mouthy Jean, Margaret's best friend, the talented Danielle Sultini is pretty hilarious and wins the most laughs. There is also the eccentric landlord Dottie, played by the highly amusing Alice McMahon, and Stevie, Margaret's former boss, nicely played by the sweet Darius James Copland.

What's so wonderful about David Lindsay-Abaire's writing is that he doesn't judge his characters; he lets us see them plainly, as they are, flaws and all, without any apologies. It is this virtue that makes Good People an engrossing and deeply honest play.

Without giving away too much, in the second act the audience is treated to a very different neighborhood, the village of Chestnut Hill, or, as Margaret puts it, "the lace curtain" life. And, as the locale changes, the work of the fine scenic designers Greg Fairbend and Robert Mastroni likewise changes: Margaret's home is represented by scenes in her drab kitchen and in a bingo hall; in Chestnut Hill, we see zebra chairs in a plush living room, complete with a priceless vase and other niceties.

The reasons for Margaret's journey to this other part of Boston are to see her former high school classmate (and former boyfriend) Mike, who has become a doctor and has a much younger wife, and, through him, the possibility of finding a job. The excellent Brian Michael Riley plays the not always sympathetic Mike, and the pretty Jessica Myers shines as Mike's wife Karen, in a lifestyle completely foreign to the scenes portrayed earlier in the play.

There are more than a few surprises concerning Margaret's life, but the real heart of this play is in the relationships between the characters, which are portrayed flawlessly by the cast. Of course, performances like these don't come out of thin air and credit must also go to director Tom Holehan, who works wonderfully well with his actors and mines the play for all its humor and heartache.

Since its Broadway debut in 2011, Good People has become one of the most frequently performed plays in regional theatre. When productions of this work are as wholly funny and moving as this one is, it is easy to see why. By all means, make your way to the Square One Theatre Company to see Good People for a truly memorable evening of theatre.

Good People continues performances at the Square One Theatre Company in Stratford through March 21, 2015. For tickets, please visit www.squareonetheatre.com or call the box office at (203) 375-8778.


Photo: Richard Pheneger

- Zander Opper


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