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David Lindsay-Abaire, the playwright who penned IRT’s wonderful current main stage production, Good People, happens to be one of my favorite playwrights. His play Rabbit Hole moved me a great deal and, indeed, moved most everyone who saw it. Rabbit Hole‘s subject matter was gut-wrenching – the loss of a very young child through a car accident – a loss most of us can feel a painful empathy for. Good People‘s main plotline, the seemingly impossible struggles of a single mother with a handicapped adult child, isn’t quite so gut-wrenching, yet it also seeks an empathetic reaction, at least at first.

Margie (Constance Macy) tries to explain to her boss Stevie (Nick Abell) why she is so often tardy.

Margie (Constance Macy) tries to explain to her boss Stevie (Nick Abell) why she is so often tardy.

When we are introduced to Margie (with a hard ‘g’ sound) she is suffering her latest setback – losing her low paying job due to frequent tardiness, due mainly to care-giving problems for her daughter Joyce. But she is ‘good people’ – never blaming anyone else for her plight – called ‘too nice’ by her friends. Lindsay-Abairre presents a very real-life problem here – the single mom’s quest to keep her head above water, while managing childcare, bills, growing older, and a string of minimum wage jobs due to her lack of education or skills. With limited job opportunities, Margie is compelled to see a childhood friend, Mike, who somehow got out of the Boston area Southie neighborhood which she languishes in. He not only got out, he became a doctor, an M.D. specializing in fertilization procedures. What follows shows Margie’s desperation (and how she may not be as nice as we thought) for a job, but possibly also for justice, and for a future that would salve the wound of her poverty.

Good People is an examination of a swath of American culture, and the class division between the “haves” and the “have-nots”. It lets us look at possible reasons for the chasm – two people from the same Southie background, living in two widely diverse worlds due to what(?) – luck, hard-work, good or bad decisions, their parents’ influence on them? Though we are not told the answers, we are left with questions to ponder, and that, to me, makes for a great and enjoyable play.

Margie (Constance Macy) meets with old friend, Mike (Sean Patrick Reilly) and his wife, Kate (Nicole Lewis)

Margie (Constance Macy) meets with old friend, Mike (Sean Patrick Reilly) and his wife, Kate (Nicole Lewis)

Mark Cuddy deftly directs his amazingly talented cast through their paces here. IRT favorite Constance Macy delivers a remarkable, spot-on performance as Margie. Her character’s journey of hope mixed with desperation is fully rendered as Ms. Macy finds all the levels necessary to project Margie’s many struggles. Sean Patrick Reilly nails the difficult role of Mike, the man who “got out” of Southie. Never at a loss for just the right reaction, Reilly does battle with Margie in a brilliantly honest and adroit performance. The remaining roles are perfectly filled by Nick Abell, as the put upon Stevie; Dee Pelletier as Margie’s supportive friend Jean; Peggy Cosgrave as their wacky landlady, Dottie; and Nicole Lewis, as Mike’s mostly understanding young wife, Kate.

Margie (Constance Macy)  discusses her work problems with her landlady, Dottie (Peggy Cosgrave) and her friend, Jean (Dee Pelletier.

Margie (Constance Macy) discusses her work problems with her landlady, Dottie (Peggy Cosgrave) and her friend, Jean (Dee Pelletier).

One of the stars of the show has to be the inventive multi-faced set, splendidly designed by Jo Winiarski, made up of 4 revolving triangular structures (called periactoids) that handled the five varied stage settings in a quite remarkable and expedient way. Other well-done stagecraft designs were the work of Devon Painter (Costumes), Lindsay Jones (Sound), and Ann G. Wrightson (Lighting).

IRT’s production of Good People makes for an interesting 2 hours of a timely story, marvelous performances and it provides you with the leftovers of a thoughtful meal of actions, conflicts and ideas. You should not miss it.

Good People continues at IRT through February 1, 2015. You can reserve tickets by going to http://www.irtlive.com or by calling the box office at 317-635-5252.

* – Photos by Zach Rosing

**- Banner artwork by Kyle Ragsdale

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