Mike, on the other hand, made his way out of a dead-end life, with a few breaks and without looking back. Margaret is desperate for a job, and thinks Mike, now a doctor with a beautiful wife from a wealthy family, might be able to help her. She and Mike are from the same South Boston neighborhood - they ran with the same group of high school friends, and even dated for awhile. Mike must know someone who has a job - any kind of job - that could help Margaret out. But, of course, it's not as simple as that, or we wouldn't have a play.
In Good People, playwright David Lindsay-Abaire pits these two people against each other, with power shifts taking place due to their economic differences, and how each handles the consequences of a rough start in life.
Kelly McAndrew mines the multi-faceted personality of Margaret. Pride abandoned, she knows what she needs and she demands it. She does not accept her life and try to make the most of it because she cannot keep her head above water. David Whalen plays Mike, who hardly seems strong enough to have pulled himself out of the kind of life that seems to suck people in. Mike is not only embarrassed by his poorly dressed, coarse-speaking former friend; he seems afraid of how her reappearance will affect his life (a little written foreshadowing). Both characters, Margaret especially, are interesting, though just shy of being real enough. But their confrontation at his house, with his wife Kate (very well played by January LaVoy), is great stage drama.
Margaret's friends Dottie and Jean could turn into caricature, but are kept grounded, and are a hoot, as played by Glynis Bell and Helen Coxe (love the hair!). Paul Terzenbach gives a nice turn as Margaret young boss, though the role is thinly written.
Jeff Cowie really makes the most of the O'Reilly thrust stage, going cleverly from bingo hall to doctor's home.
The City Theatre's artistic director Tracy Brigden directs here, and she has a good feel for these characters.
Good People plays through December 9 at the O'Reilly Theater for Pittsburgh Public Theater. For performance and ticket information, call 412-316-1600 or visit www.ppt.org.