Good People - Theatre Review

A review by Rachel Flanagan.

 Kia Hellman, Laura House, Marsha Morgan. Photos by Lily Kravets Photography

Mikey and Margie are two kids who grew up in the same working-class neighborhood of South Boston.  A Southie at heart, Margie never left home while Mikey not only got out but also became a lace-curtain doctor.  Good People begins in an alleyway behind the local dollar store, an odd place to hold a meeting but the exact place that local Stevie is about to tell Margie that she's fired. It isn't that Margie doesn't work hard, but that her life is hard and between public transportation, her mentally disabled daughter and trying to find her a babysitter she sometimes gets to work late.  Stevie does not want to do it, but he has to and Margie finds herself begging and pleading for this $9.20 an hour job, willing to accept $8.15 if it means she can keep her job.  It is just not Margie's lucky day and frankly, Margie does not have a lot of luck, not like Mikey does.

Good People, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Lindsay-Abaire, explores the struggles and unshakeable hopes that come with having next to nothing in America and the juxtaposition of those whose struggles are nothing more than a distant memory thanks to self-made successes. Margie grew up a Southie. After getting pregnant in high school, she dropped out and became a working mother with a premature and mentally disabled baby.  Not only has she just lost her job at the local dollar store but also she is now facing eviction and all she can hope for is a lucky card at Bingo.
 (Left: Tyler Meridith, Kia Hellman)

That is until Mikey Dillon comes back to town.  Mike may have grown up in the same neighborhood as Margie but he had something that she didn't have, someone looking for him.  He was able to go to college, become a doctor, and leave South Boston behind. Now he's back in the area with his new practice and Margie reaches out, slightly obsessively, to see if he can help her find a job.  After all, she has too much pride to accept a handout and she works hard to  be a nice person even if it means barely scraping by. Turns out Mike has changed and thinks that he just made the right choices in life for success but the way Margie sees it, is he's missing the gratitude for all of the people who helped him on his journey to success.

(Right: Shayne Anderson, Keiana Richard)

With complex emotions and bitter humor, Christine Dunford directs a production without a hitch, highlighting blue-collar life, which is not always easy to deliver.  Some of the best laughs come from the conflict between Marsha Morgan as Dottie, Margie's landlord and sometimes friend and babysitter, and Laura House as Jean, Margie's longtime friend who always has her back.  Both women kill it, not only with their lines but also with how they bring their characters to life with little actions on stage. Shayne Anderson plays Mike with the perfect contrast of nice guy with an air about him that you are not quite sure whether he is one of the Good People who get out and get lucky or just another ungrateful person with economic and social graces.  Kia Hellman was definitely the star of the show as Margie, who plays her character so well that you will feel for her and relate to her circumstances regardless of your own.  No talent is wasted here with Tyler Meridith, as Stevie, who has a better grasp on what Margie is going through then she realizes and Keiana Richàrd playing Kate, the wife of Mike, who empathizes with Margie even if Margie does not feel the same empathy for them as she brings up numerous pains from the past.

Shayne Anderson, Keiana Richard, Kia Hellman

The social dichotomy being explored throughout Good People is that of people who escape their past, like Mike so eloquently does with self-inflicted amnesia, and those who find themselves stuck, like Margie, with no choices to make and no way out. Throughout the arguments that erupt, each person accuses the other of being too soft or too hard, too nice or too mean and every single person is right.  It's easy to believe that Margie is a good person, she's done what she's had to do and stayed true to whom she believed she was, a high school dropout teenage mom stuck with a disabled child practically living in squalor. However, what if some of her circumstances could have changed if she did not have such pride in her bitter surroundings.  Don't mistake Mike for the bad guy just because he conveniently forgot where he came from and who helped him along the way because what Mike lost out on was the ability to know gratitude. As a self-made man, he never learned what it was to be humble, to need help or to appreciate what others have done for him.  Just as you may feel sorry for Margie and her unfortunate circumstances, you may feel sorry for Mike who does not see that "all of this is wasted on you," as Margie put it best. For what she lacks in social and economic luxuries, she has an enormous amount of gratitude and that may be even more important in life's goal to be one of the Good People.

Runs: April 29 through June 5, 2016
Plays: Fridays & Saturdays 8:00 PM; Sundays 3:00 PM
General Admission: $20
Buy or 323-960-5770
Running Time:  Approximately 120 minutes; there will be one 10 minute intermission
Where: The Hudson Guild Theatre, 6539 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90038

Posted By Rachel Flanagan on May 04, 2016 03:21 pm | Permalink